Staff's proposed solution was to discourage five- and six-bedroom units by allowing more density for apartments with fewer residents. What they failed to mention was that the incentives would increase the maximum permitted density from twenty units per acre to forty--double the committee's recommended number. And had Carman not been quick with her calculator, the committee might have unknowingly approved that change.
"When I brought it to the attention of the committee at the meeting held to discuss the proposal," she says, "the response by the committee was astonishment and opposition by almost everyone."
There were other parts of the staff-prepared report that the committee was pleased to approve. "The major issue here," says Carman, "is that 83 percent of R4C lots are too small to be R4C lots." With the minimum lot size currently set at 8,500 feet, most buildings in the district are "noncomplying." This means additions or renovations can only be made with permission by the zoning board of appeals (ZBA).
Bringing more existing structures into compliance is something Carman and fellow committee member Ethel Potts say received unanimous support among committee members and city staff. They recommended shrinking the minimum lot size to 4,350 square feet--greatly reducing the number of non-complying buildings, and instantly making life more reasonable for property owners.