Spokane County is considering a change to its zoning code that would allow three or more units of attached single-family homes, called row housing, in all residential zones. Although there apparently isnt high demand for such units so far, land-use planners say row housing is a housing construction option they believe will grow in popularity.
In Spokane County, row housing currently is allowed only in medium- and high-density residential zones, where multifamily housing is allowed, says Steve Davenport, a senior planner with the county.
Row housing already is allowed under certain circumstances in the cities of Spokane, Liberty Lake, and Coeur dAlene.
The Spokane County planning commission decided at a June 12 public hearing to recommend approval of a zoning-code amendment that would allow row housing in low-density residential zones. The countys planning department now is drafting findings of fact, which it will forward, along with the planning commissions recommendation, to the county commissioners, who will make a final decision on the proposed change, Davenport says.
The change would define row housing as a form of attached single-family housing in which three or more dwelling units share one or more common walls with other dwelling units.
Each unit would occupy an individually-owned lot.
Lots in row-housing developments would be smaller than conventional lots, and they would have no side-yard setbacks, Davenport says.
The total density in the developments, however, wouldnt change from current limits, because developers would be required to provide green space along with row houses, he says.
Row housing would be developed through the PUD (planned unit development) process, which requires an open-space component, he says.
The maximum density allowed in a low-density residential zone is six lots per acre.
Through the PUD process, developers can cluster homes in smaller areas than conventionally allowed in exchange for preserving open space elsewhere in the development so that the total lots per acre are within the density restrictions.
Davenport says he expects that the county commissioners will decide within a month whether to approve the row-housing recommendation, although they could decide to hold another public hearing before rendering a final decision.
The proposed amendment was brought about at the request of Bella Terra Gardens LLC, of Spokane. Roger Fruci, a principal in Bella Terra Gardens and a prominent Spokane accountant, says he plans to submit a proposal for a planned unit development involving row housing if the amendment is approved.
He declines for now to discuss the plan, which he says is in a conceptual stage.
The first step is to find out if we can do it, he says. Then well put forward a plan and say heres the concept.
Fruci asserts that four 1,500-square-foot attached homes each use an average of half the energy for heating that a comparable 1,500-square-foot stand-alone home uses.
Row housing saves energy, because common walls are not exposed to outside temperatures, he says.
The countys zoning code already allows for duplexes in low-density residential zones, where the minimum lot size for a single-family home is 5,000 square feet, although duplexes require a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet, Davenort says.
The proposed amendment would require only a minor change in the countys zoning code, because the countys PUD standards are adequate to support row housing, he says.
We looked at other codes, and we dont have to make significant changes to make it happen, Davenport says. Were recognizing row housing by defining it and making it a permitted use.
Fruci says he would like the ability to cluster attached townhouses in a low-density residential zone in the county.
With row housing you can cluster housing and build on only the land thats appropriate for houses, he says. It allows in-fill, which is a big goal of the countys comprehensive land-use plan.
Ken Pelton, the city of Spokanes planner, says a developer within the city would have to go through the citys PUD process to build attached housing with more than two units.
He says he hasnt seen any proposals for such row-housing, but its one of the alternatives that the city has made available to address the needs of older home buyers and to promote affordable housing.
Its an opportunity that I think people will take advantage of as time goes on, Pelton says.
Davenport says the county has seen little demand for row housing prior to the request for the zoning code amendment, although it is trying to promote opportunities for affordable and energy-efficient housing.
Row housing will probably be attractive to empty nesters or professionals, who dont have time to take care of a big lot, he says.
Contact Mike McLean at (509) 344-1266 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Subscribe today to our free E-Newsletters!SUBSCRIBE