After a majority of neighbors objected to initial and follow-up plans for a homeowner to build two accessory dwelling units on her 10th Street lot, in part to have more rental units, Cody Planning and Zoning Board members decided they need more time before making a final decision.
At the end of a more-than-two-hour-long meeting Tuesday, chair Richard Jones suggested tabling the issue until the next meeting in order to get more information. The board agreed.
City planner Todd Stowell said staff advised the members approve the request for two additional buildings on the property at 1322 10th St. as long as the structures met certain requirements such as height limits and appropriate setbacks. Members had generally indicated they would be willing to approve the special exemption request – which could include buildings being less than 10 feet from the property line or fewer than six parking spaces – and apologized to the applicant for delaying a final decision.
Members also expressed appreciation for the plight of the neighbors, seven of whom gave written statements in opposition and three others who spoke at the meeting.
Two of the main issues they had, however, weren’t up for discussion. Neighbors, including Tom Keegan and Leslie Bales, disliked allowing a dwelling so close to a property line and to the alley. They also objected to simply having more people and traffic in the neighborhood near Cody High School.
Regardless, while many of the neighbors live in an area zoned R-3, the property in discussion, owned by Cody resident Sarah Clark, is zoned R-4 and thus more appropriate for higher density residential. There are numerous residential zones in the city, from RR (Rural Residential) and R1 (Single Family Residential) to R3 (Medium-High Density Residential) and R4 (High Density Residential).
The neighbors said they had never even heard that a property so close to theirs was zoned that way.
“I don’t think we can resolve the major issue because that’s a zoning issue,” Jones said. “To me it’s very important, zoning is what it is – lots of thoughts are put into that zoning.
“If you’re a neighbor to that zoning, you’re a neighbor to that zoning. In R4, all of this is allowed.”
Most of the current zoning boundaries were finalized in 2017 after more than a year of staff work and after extensive discussion and public hearings.
Aside from the zoning issue, Clark’s plan would still need exemptions to be approved. Her proposal, already revised once after a flood of negative comments from neighbors, is to build two new structures on the property that would serve as small, one-bedroom units in addition to the two-bedroom house on the property.
The two new buildings together with the large home do not exceed the square footage requirements for the lot size. However, since they would all be occupied homes or rental properties, neighbors said they worried about increased traffic and the impact on the integrity of the residential area.
“It’s changing the character of the neighborhood a bit,” Keegan said. “We’ve already had short-term rentals pop up, now potentially two more.”
Clark said she bought the property three years ago but hasn’t been able to afford the mortgage on her own, so she has rented out the existing house and is staying at her family’s place in Wapiti.
With her plan to build the two new structures, she said she’d like to live in one of the one-bedroom units and rent out the other two, for either short- or long-term.
After an initial plan that included limited setbacks between proposed new structures and a neighboring property as well as the alley, she expanded the setbacks in her revised plan and said she’s be willing to adjust those even more.
“I heard your concerns and the original plan was a mistake,” Clark said. “I have reached out to all the neighbors to make amends for all the stress that I might have caused. I’ve modified the proposal. Let go of the garage space. I think it’s going to look really nice, that’s my hope.”
The next P&Z meeting is scheduled for noon, Feb. 23 in the Cody Club Room.