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City Councilmen Reject CBD Open Space Plan

City Councilmen Reject CBD Open Space Plan image
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A zoning ordinance amendrnent which would have required developers of residential buildings below five stories in three zones to provide 30 per cent open space was turned down, 7-4, by the City Council last night. The council instead unanimously directed the city administration to devise a plan for acquiring open space in the Central Business District. Three councilmen (H. C. Curry, First Ward, Douglas D. Crary, Second Ward, and Paul; H. Johnson, Third Ward) who had voted in favor of the 30 per cent open space provision when it passed first reading Dec. 20 switched to a "no" vote last night. The provision would have required developers of residential buildings in the C1A-R, C2A-RJ and C2B-R zones to provide 4 per cent usable open space which could not be utilized. as parking space, service drives or trash collection areas. Prior to taking final action on the proposal, the council conducted a public hearing but no one spoke. Businessmen in the downtown area had expressed objections to the provision at earlier meetings. Crary, generally giving the opinion of those who voted against the ordinance amendment, said the amendment was aimed at smaller lots in the city and penalized the owner of these lots. He noted that the required 10-foot setback from streets would sometimes take 20 to 30 per cent of these small lots and the 30 per cent provision could prevent an owner from using his lot. City Administrator Guy C. Larcom Jr. said the main weakness of the provision was that if a building in these zones is taller than five stories there is no requirement for open space at ground level. He also questioned whether the requirement would work to the advantage of the city, noting that developers could use only a two-foot setback on the sides and the narrow strips could become trash collectors. "I don't think it has any real meaning," he said. Larcom added, however, that he would ask the council in the near future to pass an ordinance which would require developers to provide adequate storage areas for trash receptables and also adequate access to these containers. One section of the proposed ordinance amendment dealing with 10-foot setbacks from streets was not acted upon last night. As worded, developers could not place an access drive across this open space. The council became bogged down on the question when it could not arrive at suitable language to permit the access drives. Generally, the council did not wish to permit the drives to run parallel to the length of the building but wished to have the access drives cross at right angles to the 10-foot setback. A final vote on this section will come at next week's meeting.