Zoning changes targeting a small section of south High Street in Dublin's historic district are solidifying, and Dublin City Council could be ready to vote on the amendment in October.
The change would amend the city's zoning map to create a historic core II district. Details in the proposed amendment include a maximum building height of no more than two stories and specific operating hours for any new eating and drinking establishments seeking to locate in the new district.
The proposed area for the historic core II district is bisected by South High Street and bordered on the east and west by Blacksmith Lane and Mill Lane, respectively. Spring Hill Lane borders the district to the north, and John Wright Lane provides a partial border to the south.
The city developed the proposed zoning changes in response to historic district residents' concerns about the intrusion of restaurants and bars in the neighborhood, as well as the scale, height and operational aspects of new commercial buildings, said Vince Papsidero, Dublin planning director.
Pasidero said the city paid $54,200 for a consultant, Leslie Oberholtzer with Codametrics. She was part of the team that wrote the initial Bridge Street district zoning code, which included the historic district, he said.
In preparing the amendment, city employees looked at existing code and public input rather than other communities' zoning, Papsidero said.
"There was no reason to create something completely new," he said.
Instead, the amendment creates a more specific set of guidelines in an area already part of the historic district, Papsidero said. The guidelines, however, are only applicable to new developments, he said.
In the proposed historic core II district, new buildings along High Street would be a maximum of two stories tall with a building footprint of no more than 1,800 square feet. Onsite parking would only be permitted behind buildings; parking wouldn't be allowed to be visible from High Street.
The building height for any new buildings within 50 feet of any lane abutting a single-family residential home would decrease to 1.5 stories.
The amendment also includes the permissible heights for individual stories. The floor-to-floor height range for a ground story is from 9 to 12 feet high, while the floor-to-floor height range for subsequent stories is from 8.5 to 11 feet high.
Any new eating and drinking establishments within the new district would only be allowed to operate between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Commercial deliveries and refuse collection would need to occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The Dublin Architectural Review Board will provide a recommendation for the amendment in August, and the Dublin Planning and Zoning Commission will provide its recommendation the following month. Council is scheduled to vote on whether to adopt the changes in October.
Jane Fox, a member of the Architectural Review Board said she thinks the proposed zoning code changes will be helpful in preserving the Historic District's character as well as the green spaces behind residents' homes.
The district's character draws tourism and foot traffic, and overdeveloping the area would make it generic, and less attractive to small businesses and tourism, Fox said.
Jeff Leonhard, an historic district resident, said although the city's intentions might have been good, the additional regulations could make it more difficult for small businesses to become established in the area.
Tom Holton, president of the Dublin Historical Society, said the code proposal would allow a developer to build a complex of buildings that could be "quite out of character with the current district."
"I am concerned with the density of structures allowed on a lot," he said, even though a building would be supposed to take up no more than 50 percent of the lot under the proposed zoning changes.
Joyce Richards lives within the area proposed as historic core II and said the proposed restrictions make sense to preserve the area.
Adding tall buildings to her neighborhood, Richards said, "would make it look awful."