image: Cameron Station
Over in Arlington, Alexandria City, Fairfax City, Fairfax, PG County, MD - either has regulations already in the books or in the works - for infill development of McMansion or Super-sized homes. The amendments include: height, front setbacks, garages, floor area ration (FAR), tree coverage and teardowns on substandard lots.
Alexandria City recently passed three amendments to address the super-sized homes issues. Three amendments approved by the City Council, via Update (subscription-only):
1. For houses that are 'too big.'
- Alexandria imposes Floor area revisions (FAR) for both residential and commercial. Removes exclusion on areas under 7'6" ceiling heights. Attic under 5' excluded. Vaulted ceilings over 15' shall be counted twice, and those over 25' counted 3 times FAR.
2. For houses that are 'too tall.'
- Dwelling height calculation is set at the greater of 25 feet or average building ht on the blockface plus 20%. Special permit is needed if owners looking to build homes that exceed those requirements.
- Front threshold heights. It's a permanent approval given to interim regulations. It limits the front threshold and by extension the first floor height. The new limit is average of front threshold height on the blockface + 20%.
- Measuring building height. This is how Alex. City would measure it: Building height will be measured from the lower of the pre-construction grade or post-construction grade to prevent cheating (for lack of better word) when builders using dirt along the foundation that gives the impression of decreasing building height. Other def are added for mansard and gambrel roof types. (sample of restoration of a gambrel home in Virginia).
image: gambrel roof (via Wiki)
image: mansard roof (via Wiki)
3. Curbing the growth of out-of-character houses.
To preserve neighborhood characteristics, the City gives incentives for front porches, detached garages.
- Open porches up to 240 s.f. is excluded from FAR calculations.
- Rear yard garages will be excluded from FAR measurements. Garages can only be used for cars (no more junks store in the garages).