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PC Workshop on Housing Recommendations | Live Tweet

Posted by Bonnie Limbird

There was a technology hiccup at last nights first Planning Commission workshop on Housing (no, there is no conspiracy – technology fails sometimes as we all know. People who say that is unacceptable are being ridiculous. No one, without exception, has escaped technology fails at work, home, or volunteering), so there is no recorded video to watch for you or for me, but an audio recording of the meeting will be posted on the City’s website today, and a local group live-tweeted the proceedings which I will copy/paste below. 😁 (Each paragraph break is typically a new tweet.)


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The @PrairieVillage planning commission starts in 5 minutes. Room is quite full considering that no public comment is permitted. We’ll live tweet things as it unfolds.

Greg Wolf welcomes everyone. Explains that this is a work session, not a public hearing. No public comment will be allowed. There is technical difficulties with the livestream. 

Commission is taking their time with this process and will allow public input at a later date. Comments can be emailed to Nickie Lee. 

Deputy City Admin Nickie Lee emphasizes that tonight is not about making decisions; it’s about reviewing info. Packet can be found here.…

IT is remoting into the system to see if they can get the livestream functioning. We are paused while that happens. If it works, the livestream will be on the city’s Facebook page.

Consultant Chris Brewer is starting the meeting. The commission has two goals: diversifying the housing portfolio and maintaining the integrity of neighborhoods. 

The commission will want to consider the items below 👇 when looking at the recommendations.

There are six zoning questions that the commission needs to answer. They vary by each zone.

First issue to consider – whether to modify the current limits on ADUs in R-1A/R-1B. Current limitations: must be 30% of principal unit, must be attached, & limited to family members or care givers. Current ADUs must be registered and issued a certificate of occupancy every 3 yrs 

There are currently no ADUs registered with the city though there are some suspected unregistered ADUs in the city. 

Issue 2: small@lot/courtyard housing. Currently allowed through planned application. They are currently allowed in R1 with discretionary plan approvals. Should we provide more zoning guidance for this type of housing? 

Issue 3: Should 2-unit house be allowed on smaller lots? This would impact R2 zoning only. 

Issue 4: Should triplexes or quad plexus be permitted in R2? Can we decrease the lot size required in R3 & R4 zones to build these? 

Issue 5: should row houses be allowed in R3/R4 zoning? What would those standards look like? (Row houses are currently not permitted). 

Issue 6: Should we be considering small apartments? The current zoning only encourages large units because of the lot coverage requirement. This would only impact R3/R4. 

Correction: that last tweet is a continuation of Issue 5. Issue 6 would be allowing mixed use building. This happened in Meadowbrook but required a special application. 

This is the proposed schedule for discussing the housing recommendations. Public input sessions would happen in January & April/May 2023. Commission would finalize recommendations in June 2023.

Wolf asks what the process is to get approved for an ADU right now. Folks submit a permit application. It does not go to the Planning Commission for approval. 

Consultant is clarifying that an ADU & ALQ are the same thing. ALQ – Assisted Living Quarter – is a dated term, but serves the same purpose as an ADU. Crowd grumbled at the idea that an ADU & ALQ are identical. 

Appears the issue is that what our zoning calls an ALQ is required to be attached to a home. Commission, as part of this process, can consider permitting unattached units. 

Valentino suggests that we focus on zoning that is currently working and improve upon it. We can set aside ADUs/R1 for now since it’s decisive. Birkel agrees. 

Per consultant, ADUs might not move the needle much on affordability or availability since it’s up to a homeowner to build them. This is in response to a question by Lenahan. Wolf suggests we maybe set aside ADUs if they don’t further our goals. 

Breneman points out that if we expand ADUs, we’ll need to consider parking & short-term rentals. Birkel also expresses concerns with parking access – will there be too many cars? Someone in the audience claps. 

Lenahan asks if council has defined what is “attainable housing” and what is the “missing middle housing.” Consultant explains that missing middle housing is missing smaller housing (something between an apartment and a duplex). Council has not defined attainable. 

Consultant explains that you end up with more attainable housing when you have more housing available at different price points. It is not the same as affordable. 

Wallerstein is asking what “by right” means. Consultant explains that it’s a jargon term for requiring a permit for something. It’s determined by zoning ordinances and we currently allow ADUs via by right. 

Valentino suggests that we should focus on commercial zoning first (issue 6) and work backwards. Hold off on R1 zoning updates because it is the most complex and should be changed the least. Brown agrees that reversing the order would be most productive. 

Wallerstein wants to know how HOA covenants fits in with zoning ordinances. Consultant states the stricter one stands, but it is responsible for the HOA to enforce their covenants. 

We are shifting discussion to Issue 6 (mixed use development). Birkel asks what issues may exist if we reinvest in this area and what is the public looking for. 

Consultant states that R3/R4 zoning districts might not be working very well since it’s all subject to discretionary plan approvals. 

Brown is asking for a case study of another city that’s tackled this issue. What does it look & feel like? No one needs to be afraid of a duplex. Birkel expands – What are our options? What would it look like? 

Lenahan suggests that each mixed use development would need to be unique. Should we stick with the current process or standardize it. 

Valentino points out that zoning often has stretch goals and we might be able to layer in stretch goals as we allow more flexibility. Need to show the public they are getting something back. 

Wallerstein points out that we have very few PV businesses. Would mixed use developments limit our businesses. Brown suggests that it’s not an either/or situation since folks can live above a business. 

Commission is having a general discussion about attainable and affordable housing and if we can provide both. Consultant states the plan is long-term and providing more diverse housing can lead to more housing at different price points. 

Wallerstein stresses that we need to define all the terms that are being thrown around – affordable housing vs attainable housing vs sustainable housing. 

Wolf questions if we can do anything with zoning to creat housing in the $250k to $500k range b/c people want to maximize profits. 

Lenahan suggests that the recs might be trying to do too much at once. We might need to narrow the questions to have useful public discussion. Valentino agrees; says we should focus on R3/R4 first. Can tackle R1/R2 later. 

Lenahan suggests that we could cover all of it but may need each session to focus on a chunk of the recommendations. Room is starting to clear as the Commission continues to discuss non-R1 housing. 

Wallerstein points out that there were long meetings to work out the Meadowbrook development. Commission is willing to actively work with developers. Suggests the current process for mixed use isn’t necessarily wrong. 

Wolf would like to know how other communities handle this. Suggests the planning commission can’t do anything to create affordable housing. Asks consultant what the next step should be. 

Consultant points out that the R3/R4 standards might not be functional (no R3 proposed project has met the criteria for R3 zoning and have never gone past the application stage). 

Valentino suggests that we should look at these recommendations as an opportunity to refresh R3/R4 and MXD zoning. 

Wolf is now asking Consultant what we should do to modernize the zoning in R3/R4/MXD. Suggests the commission might leave R1 zoning is right now. 

Council is discussing if they should pause discussing R1/R2 changes and if doing so would be meeting their charge by council. 

Consensus is to focus on R3/R4/MXD right now and table R1/R2 discussions. That might meet what residents need. 

City Manager Wes Jordan suggests that the Commission shouldn’t leave R1/R2 in limbo since that seems to be the concern of many of the people in the room. 

Jordan agrees that definitions are warranted and asks if the Commission would be okay with staff developing definitions we can use moving forward. 

Wolf re-states that the Commission wants to focus on R3/R4/MXD first and will move onto R1/R2 if necessary to meet the goals. 

Commission will have at least one more work session before hosting a public forum. That session will focus on what the public forum looks likes. 

And with that, the meeting is adjourned. 

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