Parking credits, fences and size of multi-family residential units being reviewed
Posted on 07/30/2020
New building proposed at 150-156 N. Center at Dunlap.The Planning Commission took up several items at its July 21 meeting – from finding the sweet spot for square footage within units in multi-family residential buildings to re-evaluating assignment of parking credits and requesting language changes in two ordinances (fences and front open space for single-family residences) for clarity and consistency.

The Planning Commission directed City Planner Sally Elmiger, of Carlisle Wortman Associates, to review ordinances of traditional downtown buildings in neighboring communities to determine where Northville fits in the range of unit size for multi-family residences within a larger building. The directive was made because a developer brought plans for a mixed use building at 150-156 N. Center before the Planning Commission with two one-bedroom units of 579 and 600 square feet – short of the required 650 square feet in the current ordinance. The developer has since combined those two units into one in the mixed-use building that will house six residential units (one and two bedrooms) plus a first-floor restaurant.

Elmiger presented a summary of the square footage requirements of area cities and townships for all unit types and found that Northville’s current requirements are in the middle of the “low average” and “high average” of similar cities. Compared to nearby townships, Northville’s requirements are above average for efficiencies and one-bedroom units, and below average for two- and three-bedroom units. The City planner was then asked to research real estate information regarding the rental market in Northville and neighboring communities.

For the ordinance language change, footnote 25 of Section 15.02 states that the 65% front open space requirement applies to all “single-family residential districts,” which is inaccurate because the footnote also applies to “multi-family residential districts.”

Elmiger noted the intent of this language was that the front open space requirement applies to all single-family “residences.” The proposed change (in italics) is: “a minimum of 65% of the front open space shall be free of pavement, as defined, on the following lots occupied by single-family residences in all residential districts. This would apply to all lots that meet the minimum lot width requirement as well as lots that don’t meet that requirement but have vehicular access to an alley abutting the lot.

For the fence ordinances, there are inconsistencies between requirements in Section 18.09 “Fences” (Residential), located in the Zoning Ordinance and Article X “Fences,” located in the General Code.

Elmiger was asked to work on amendments regarding fences. The City planner recommended keeping the fence provisions in the Zoning Ordinance, which is standard for municipalities; eliminating the fence provisions in the General Code, and incorporating any additional fence requirements from the code into the ordinance, as appropriate. The Planning Commission also requested that the City building official attend the Planning Commission meeting when the fence ordinance is on the agenda.

Assignment of parking credits – The Planning Commission directed the City planner to provide draft language to address inconsistencies in assignment of parking credits for existing buildings in the Central Business District.

The Zoning Ordinance has different provisions that address the re-use of existing historic buildings, the provision of public parking and one-stop parking where drivers don’t have to move their vehicles to visit various places within the Central Business District (CBD).

The Planning Commission is reviewing the interplay between two provisions: 1) CBD parking requirements, and 2) the assignment of parking credits within the CBD.
The first provision requires parking using the following schedule: residential 1 bedroom: 1 space/unit; residential 2 bedroom: 2 spaces/unit; retail/office: 1 space/250 sq. ft. (gross floor area); and restaurants: 1 space/150 sq. ft. (gross floor area).The second provision “assigns” parking credits to existing buildings within the CBD at one space per 200 sq. ft. for all floors. Existing residential uses are assigned one parking credit for each dwelling unit plus one parking credit for each bedroom.

Assignment of parking credits is done when there is a change of use on the site, which results in one or more of the following: the need for additional parking, a significant change in traffic flow or interior circulation, a change in hours of operation that impact parking, a change in stormwater flow or an increase in impervious area, or a change that requires additional public services.

For more detail, view the City Planner’s presentation and reports here

The Subcommittee on Public Engagement updated the Planning Commission, noting the first public survey will conclude at the end of day on July 31. Based on input from that survey, a follow-up survey will be conducted in the fall. The Subcommittee is developing an online activity conducted in August to elicit input from citizens on land use for the Racetrack, “Cadytown” and S. Center – the three sub-areas being reviewed in the Master Plan.