Less for more: Ordinance allows smaller homes

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, November 24, 2012

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With less, the city of Runaway Bay hopes to get more. More tax revenue, that is.

At the request of the Planning and Zoning Commission and after extensive research, the council Tuesday approved a building ordinance amendment allowing the construction of 1,300-square-foot homes (down from the previous 1,600-square-foot minimum) in designated areas.

The particular zones are in the Tryall and Lanai drives area, south of U.S. 380, and the back side of Flozell Adams Drive, north of 380 on the far west edge of town. They were selected by a two-person team of P&Z chairman Roland Ray and Pat Pravitz, who initiated the effort.

“The only way we’re going to get more taxes in the city of the Bay, we’ve got to get business here or we’ve got to build houses. And right now, businesses are not banging the door down to get in, so our best bet is probably in the housing area,” Ray said.

But the two recognized the required 1,600-square-foot minimum home size was not accommodating.

“Like Pat said when she first approached me with this, we need to look at building a smaller home – just as good a home, but let’s go a little smaller,” Ray continued. “We are a retirement community. In doing so, we need to maybe open the door to more affordable homes.

“We want the same type of housing we’re building now,” he added. “We don’t want to put in a less-desired structure. We just want to make it a little smaller.”

The two talked with local contractors and developers, who supported the change. They presented their findings to the rest of the committee, who gave them a green light. Notices were sent to the individuals who would be impacted, requesting their input through phone calls and a public hearing.

“We had some phone calls, but nobody came to our public hearing,” Ray said. “In my opinion, the feedback is OK. I don’t see anybody that has a tremendous feeling against doing this particular thing.”

In addition to allowing smaller homes, the new ordinance also eliminates the requirement of “one covered parking spot with 60 feet of storage area and a second parking area.”

“According to the individual we talked to, resale of homes with a one-car garage is very difficult,” Pravitz said. “Although he was in favor of a two-car garage, you have to think of our single citizens who don’t have a need for two spaces.”

In addition, one less requirement gives builders and potential new residents “a little more leeway,” Councilman Berry White said.

“The homes would not take away or detract from the community of Runaway Bay,” Ray said. “We didn’t want to reduce any of the building codes previous councils have put in place to ensure that we get attractive homes in the community … This opportunity is good for the community. It’s about growth. It’s about building affordable homes that fit our community.”

The council unanimously approved the motion, made by White, seconded by Jerry St. John.

“I was a building inspector around here for about four years, and I turned down more houses here than anywhere because people wanted to build 1,400- and 1,300-square-foot homes,” Councilman Dan Ticer said. “So I think it’s an absolute must that we do this.”

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