The Lake County planning staff is still working to rewrite a proposed ordinance regulating new home construction a month after the county’s Planning & Zoning Board tabled it, saying it was too vague in some areas and too restrictive in others.
Board Member Laura Jones Smith was the most vocal critic of the guidelines during a Jan. 4 meeting, saying it was unenforceable in many areas, too subjective and would infringe on home designs, making the entire county look the same, with little flexibility.
Bobby Howell, director of the Office of Planning & Zoning, is working with Smith and other stakeholders to resolve their issues with the ordinance, so he can try to have it ready for another look soon. It was supposed to be on the board’s Feb. 1 agenda but was postponed for another month.
The ordinance is designed to amend Land Development Regulations, subdivision design standards, lighting standards and landscape buffer requirements. Howell said wording for the document came from researching what other jurisdictions have approved.
But what they recommended did not set well with Smith and a few other board members.
“So, I was reading through these standards, and they read more like what you would expect to see in covenants and restrictions for an HOA,” Smith said. “I’m a little surprised that there’s so much sort of subjectivity in some of the language. So, I wanted to ask if there’s some section that defines some of these terms. For example, on page four of the ordinance, item B says neutral palette. So, we don’t define what a neutral palette is.”
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That, she said, is subjective and unenforceable.
“So, if this is going to stipulate that all units constructed within a residential subdivision have to be of a neutral color palette, that ties the hands of the HOAs and communities to decide what their community would look like or anything like that going forward,” she said. “So, does that not create something of a lack of diversity and product offering?”
Howell defended the wording, saying it is meant to prevent people from using “dayglo colors” on their homes.
But Smith took it further. Part of the ordinance stipulates that the largest windows in a home must face its front, which she contends restricts architects from designing homes with a kitchen or bedroom in front.
“You are saying that the largest window or group of windows of the living room, dining room or family room should be visible from the street which means those spaces would have to be on the street facing the side of the property, if those are the windows to be visible from the street. So, I couldn’t put my kitchen on the front side of my property.”
She said that would mean the county is dictating the design of a home. “If you put all of these in play for every subdivision, there will be literally no diversity. Every house is going to be the same elevation, is going to be very similar — no variety of product in Lake County.”
Several other board members chimed in, pushing back against wording that would prohibit people from parking boats, wave-runners or other such equipment at their homes. One suggested shielding them, rather than prohibiting them.
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