STUART — The City Commission tailored a development code meant to increase density in the downtown area in an initial vote on Monday.
What happened: The commission voted to change a development code that allows a living unit of a certain square footage to be counted as half or three-quarters of a unit, known as a fractional unit. Commissioners required units to be a smaller square footage, added more parking for those units and set a ceiling on how many units can be fractional in a multifamily project. A final vote with those changes is expected April 10.
The commission voted 4-1 for the changes with Commissioner Campbell Rich dissenting, arguing that the change would lessen opportunities for affordable and attainable housing.
Code details: The code currently allows units up to 900 square feet to be counted as a half unit, and units up to 1,100 square feet to be counted as three-quarters of a unit. The square footage is to be reduced to 500 and 700 square feet, respectively.
Parking calculations for such units, and multifamily projects in the downtown area that require commission approval, were expanded slightly:
- A unit up to 500 square feet would be calculated with 1.25 parking spaces (no changes)
- A unit up to 700 square feet would be calculated with 1.5 spaces (increased from 1.4)
- Units more than 700 square feet would be calculated with 2 spaces (increased from 1.5)
Previously, a project utilizing the maximum buildout with fractional units could increase the number of units from 30 per acre to 60 per acre, assuming all are half units. Now, there is a 50% cap, which means there would be a maximum of 45 units per acre with half units.
Development pause: The changes come after almost six months of analysis and a pause on developments utilizing this code, or a “zoning in progress.” The commission also reviewed a code that allows multifamily projects with up to 30 units per acre upon commission approval. It left thAT code unchanged after three months of review.
- Rich: “I don’t want to tie our hands in any way. I don’t want to see this change. We need to be able to work locally with some developer who wants to come in and provide affordable housing.”
- Commissioner Christopher Collins: “We were going in the right direction, trying to make it harder to qualify for this. It had to be smaller units but … We need to pull these half units out of our (Comprehensive) Plan.”
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