Warrenton requiring future houses to be larger, have larger setbacks

Adam Rollins, Staff Writer
Posted 10/5/21

The Warrenton Board of Aldermen has approved new rules for home development that will require larger floor plans, lot sizes and setbacks for future developments.

Broadly speaking, the changes will …

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Warrenton requiring future houses to be larger, have larger setbacks

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The Warrenton Board of Aldermen has approved new rules for home development that will require larger floor plans, lot sizes and setbacks for future developments.

Broadly speaking, the changes will require more spacious construction plans in neighborhoods of single-family homes. Existing neighborhoods and subdivision developments that have already been approved by the city are largely exempt from the changes.

Most notably, single-family houses may no longer be built in areas zoned for high-density residential development. Such areas are now reserved for things like duplexes and apartments. City officials say this will give neighboring property owners a clearer idea of what to expect from nearby developments.

The changes come in response developers frequently seeking high-density zoning for single-family housing developments, allowing them to build houses closer together on smaller lots.

Ward 1 Alderman Larry Corder said this trend raised safety concerns over the fire risk of having homes being built so close together. Corder said aldermen also worried that the trend would leave Warrenton with nothing but small ‘starter homes.’

“There’s not really a ‘move up’ home for those folks that want to go to that next level, and I’m concerned that maybe people who are looking for larger homes will move out of the community,” Corder explained. “(This change) also offers more green space by increasing the size of those lots, and probably reduces a little bit of traffic if we make those lots a little bit larger.”

Concerns over the density of housing on small lots came to a head over a proposal earlier this year to build more than 90 homes on 35 acres just west of Binkley Woods Park. Corder, along with aldermen Bob Delaloye and Jack Crump, opposed allowing high-density zoning for the development, saying their concerns included crowded vehicle parking on the streets, increased traffic around the neighborhood, water runoff and houses being too close together.

Those concerns kept the project on hold for several months, but eventually Mayor Eric Schleuter broke a tie vote from the aldermen to approve the 35-acre development in August. That development will proceed under the city’s old rules, but any future projects will have to abide by the new sizing requirements.

New rules

Here’s a quick summary of all the changes in each of the relevant zoning types, according to the city’s planning and zoning department:

Ag: Side yard setbacks are increased from 10 feet to 15 feet (a total of 30 feet between houses).

“R-1” Low Density Residential: Minimum house size increased from 1,000 square feet to 1,200. Side yard setbacks increased from minimum 7 feet to 12 feet (a total of 24 feet between houses).

“R-2” Medium Density Residential: Minimum lot size increased from 8,400 square feet to 10,000. Minimum house size increased from 1,000 square feet to 1,200. Side yard setback increased from minimum 7 feet to 10 feet (a total of 20 feet between houses).

“R-3” High Density Residential: Single-family houses no longer allowed. Setback requirements for buildings such as duplexes are increased from 20 feet to 30 in the front; from 5 feet to 7 on the sides; and from 20 feet to 25 in the back. The city is also retaining its requirement that any multi-family developments must receive a conditional use permit that allows the city to create unique restrictions for each individual project.

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