We oppose reducing LDR lot width

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The Escambia County Commission will consider this ordinance again at 5:47 p.m., Thursday, April 6, 2017.  It would reduce the minimum lot width required in Low Density Residential (LDR) zoning from 70' to 60'. This will affect all LDR zoning countywide, but especially Districts 1, 5 and 2. I think this idea came up when a developer wanted to have the smaller lot width to pack more houses into a subdivision that will run from Rebel Road to Beulah Road.  

Background: A zoning change in April, 2015, combined several zoning categories into the new LDR zoning category that covers much of Beulah, Cantonment and some parts of the Perdido area. That change doubled the maximum number of houses that can be built on an acre to four. The semi-rural character of low density neighborhoods was put under siege with that change.  Nearly all the lots in Beulah's subdivisions, for example, are at least 70' wide, many 80' to 100' or much wider. 

Commissioners were moving toward reducing the minimum lot width at their last meeting, until Commissioner Doug Underhill requested time to consider possible unintended consequences.  Commissioners have emphasized that this change will not increase density, which is imprecise.  No, it will not increase the gross density of four units per acre, but it will increase the net density.  The four units per acre is a maximum where calculations start. After you deduct the land required for roads, drainage ponds, wetlands, etc., the actual amount of buildable land remains.  At that point, developers may lay out the subdivision with as many lots as they can fit on the site, while meeting zoning setbacks and size requirements.  With smaller lots, you can fit more on the available land.  Smaller lot requirement, more houses.

The last thing we need is 60' lots and houses 12' apart in Low Density Residential neighborhoods.  Not if we want to preserve any of the rural, open space that drew many of us to live there.

If you live in Escambia County, Fla., and agree, please sign this petition. 

Thank you, Theresa Blackwell, Beulah



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