Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Residence D FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Issue 42: Residence D Zoning

Q1: What is Residence D?
A: Residence D is simply a new zoning classification for regulation of multi-family (condominiums and apartments) over 4 units, on the Nov. 3rd ballot as Issue 42. It is a classification only, designed to regulate any future building projects of this type in the Village. Residence D would be added to the current Mariemont zoning code categories including Residence A, B, and C (single family houses, 4-family apartments, and larger apartments), Business B, and Industrial I.

Q2: What is the intent of Residence D?
A: Residence D is meant to regulate new proposed multi-family development in the Village so that it fits into Mariemont’s unique architectural context.

Q3: What will Residence D cost me as a taxpayer?
A: Nothing. In fact, any new Residence D developments will offset future tax burdens for Mariemont residents as new multi-family projects will provide additional real estate, income and estate tax funding to the Village and the school district. (Jordan Park condos alone yield $191k in property tax back to the community over and above the previous land use.) Additionally, any new projects would presumably increase local business revenues as well as increase neighboring property values.

Q4: Why does the Village need new zoning?
A: No current zoning exists specifically for multi-family buildings over 4 units which allow them to resemble Mariemont’s historic buildings. Existing Village large density buildings were either a) built before zoning was enacted in 1941 (the 1924 MacKenzie apartments, for instance), b) built under inadequate Residence C zoning allowing expansive parking and non-historic setbacks, or c) were built under Residence C but with variances to allow historical reproduction of the older buildings' heights and setbacks (for example, the Jordan Park condos). Approval of variances, however, creates legal loopholes which can expose the Village to future unnecessary risk.

Q5: Who created Residence D?
A: Residence D was jointly created by the county regional planning agency and Mariemont Planning and Zoning committees in a series of public meetings held over the past year. (Early concepts of mixed use development and Major Road designations were not included in the final Residence D ordinance.)

Q6: How do Residence D regulations differ from the new Miami Rd. (Jordan Park) condos?
A: Residence D regulations limit buildings to a maximum attainable 45 ft. height (2’ shorter than Jordan Park) with a 35 ft. setback from any adjacent single family homes (15’ more setback than Jordan Park) Similar to the new condos, however, Residence D would require underground parking, maintain the 10 ft front setback to extend the Village square and mandate Architectural Review Board (ARB) approval.

Q7: Where can Residence D be used?
A: The Residence D classification can be used anywhere in the Village but a developer must apply for a zoning change (requiring 4 steps of agency review with public input) for any proposed building site. The expected use of Residence D is most likely on the blocks adjacent to the Village Square where this type of development was envisioned in the 1921 Nolan plan.

Q8: What will happen to tenants in the 4-unit apartments at these locations?
A: Only if a) the Residence D ballot issue is approved and b) if any subsequently proposed project receives a zoning change and c) if any existing property owners wish to sell will a new development proceed. If existing apartments require removal, it is anticipated that most if not all tenants who wish to continue renting within the Village will have the opportunity to do so, as 574 apartment units currently exist with an estimated 8-10% vacancy rate. Additional apartment units are also available within the extended school district. Residence D allows for construction of new apartments.

Q9: What protections are in Residence D for adjacent neighbors?
A: As part of a zoning change process, the Architectural Review Board (ARB) must issue a Certificate of Appropriateness before a project is sent to the Planning Commission, Zoning Committee and Village Council for approval. ARB will insure that the architectural style, massing, and materials fit the Village character. The site plan, parking and access to a project will also be reviewed to protect the adjoining neighborhood. With each step in the zoning change process, public input is received.

Q10: Why is 45 ft. height so important in the Residence D zoning?
A: The 45 ft height generally concurs with historic high density building heights in the Village. Similarly, in order to make the economics work for new multi-family construction, the number of units on a site needs to be concentrated to generate the required revenue to pay for land and underground parking. Additionally, Tudor style architecture requires the 45 ft height for steep-pitched roofs. Finally, first floor elevations are established above finished grade to accommodate underground parking requirements.

Q11: For comparison, exactly how tall is 45 ft?
A: The Mariemont Inn is 45 ft tall (add for chimneys). Additional building heights in the Village include: the 1924 MacKenzie apartment building at Beech and Murray (42 ft plus chimneys), Executive Building (55 ft), Mariemont Strand (41 ft), Dale Park junior high (55 ft), and the Parish Center (51 ft, not including tower).

Q12: How will traffic be managed?
A: The ARB reviews the location and access to parking garages and lots to insure that multi-family projects do not disrupt neighborhood streets. The review process can reject a development if project is deemed to create a negative impact in the neighborhood.

Q13: How will parking be managed?
A: Residence D requires one space per bedroom for residents and .25 spaces for visitors, with 60% of the spaces located underground to prevent a negative impact on the aesthetics of a neighborhood. Surface parking impact will be further minimized with Residence D due to added landscape buffers.

Q14: Does Residence D affect the historic district in the Village northwest quadrant?
A: No. Residence D has no particular correlation with the historic district other than establishing a design direction for new construction. Residence D provides new Village revenues that can be spent in historic districts at the discretion of council.

Q15: Will tax abatements be used for new developments?
A. Subject to Village council approval, any property owner within the Community Reinvestment Area may receive a 15 year 50% property tax abatement if the project exceeds $50k. In the case of new multi-family developments, granting a tax abatement is beneficial for the Village as it a) influences new home buyers to relocate within the community and b) enables Village infrastructure improvements by the developer (for example, an enlarged storm drainage and retention system was built to serve the immediate neighborhood as part of the Jordan Park project).

Q16: What are the benefits of Residence D?
A. Residence D will provide a) an expanded tax base for both the Village and the school district, b) updated Mariemont zoning including architectural review, c) new housing stock in both condos and apartments, d) fulfillment of the original town plan, and e) senior housing options within the Village, all within the context of new buildings fitting appropriately into Mariemont’s historic setting.

Q17: Who supports Residence D?
A. Residence D is endorsed by the Mariemont Board of Education*, Mariemont Preservation Foundation (MPF), MariElders, Mariemont Civic Association, Mariemont Park Board, Garden Club of Mariemont, Mariemont Planning Commission, and Mariemont Village Council.
* The Mariemont Board of Education is in favor of Mariemont Residence D zoning in so far as it will provide additional tax dollars which will assist the Board as it continues to offer an excellent education to the students of the district. The Board of Education also expresses its belief that the citizens of Mariemont have the ultimate right to decide as they vote on the issue in November.

Q18: What happens if Residence D is not approved by voters?
A. In the absence of Residence D zoning approval, new multi-family development as an extension of the Village square would not be feasible under current zoning. The public hearing process to revise the existing Residence D ordinance could theoretically start anew, however its quick approval would not be anticipated (this current attempt to update zoning code is 15 months old). With an unknown timetable for approval of an unknown new zoning ordinance, it would not be likely that any current development plans and their funding would remain intact.

Q19: As a supporter, what can I do as a Mariemont resident?
A. Display a yard sign, donate to the Neighbors for Mariemont PAC, distribute flyers and vote YES on Issue 42 Residence D.

Q20: If I support Issue 42 Residence D, does it matter who I pick for council?
A. If Residence D is approved by voters, future projects will require council approval. If you support Residence D, it is also important to select council candidates who strongly endorse Issue 42.

Q21: How do I know which council candidates support Residence D?
A. The Town Crier is hosting a Candidate Forum Oct. 27, 7:00pm at the Elementary School auditorium. Candidates will be asked prior written questions by the moderator. To submit a question, please email Claire Kupferle at . Also, you can refer to the following article for candidate viewpoints:

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