River Heights confused about zoning of Lamplighter Street
By Nancy Heiner
RIVER HEIGHTS -- The River Heights City Council tried to determine Tuesday night whether 1983's Council had contradicted itself on a zoning issue.
Until the Council met Sept. 14, Lamplighter Street was zoned for single residences and for duplexes. The duplexes were required to have front yard widths of 100 feet.
That's the problem.
Lots on the street used to have a minimum front width of 60 feet. None of the available lots on Lamplighter are 100 feet wide, so no duplexes could actually be built.
The records from the 1983 meeting are unclear, and past members of the Council, including current member Wanda Rhodes, can't remember exactly why the decision was made.
Rhodes said that in the 1980s there was a violent objection to smaller lots. "I don't recall how it was solved," she said. "It just simply smoothed itself out."
"I have a hard time, personally, believing the Council made a mistake. I wish I could find even one reference that would give a recollection of it," said Council Member Noel Cooley.
Some of the neighbors who live there now also object to small lots or to the parking and noise problems that they see paired with duplexes.
"I don't care if it's 60, 80, or 100 feet," said Sydney Peterson, who lives on Lamplighter. "I don't want another duplex. We have so much turnover in the duplexes. I think it just detracts from the single family neighborhood."
Council Member Mike Jablonski said the Council was faced with an opportunity to break the stereotype that moderately priced homes and their occupants were detrimental to a neighborhood. "We do have a goal to provide moderate and low income housing," he said.
"I've been a renter, and I've appreciated paying less than for a whole house," said Council Member Marilee Dalton.
Dalton also said she didn't feel 60 or 80 feet was wide enough to accommodate the parking needs of a twin home.
Kirt Sadler, who bought a lot with the intention of building a duplex on Lamplighter, said he would sell the other part of the home to a family.
"I don't want to live next to noisy neighbors either," Sadler said.
Mayor Ralph Degn said if controlling the type of people who live in the city is the issue, zoning duplexes out is not the way to do it. "Do it with rental agreements," he said.
Some people at the meeting said they were aware of the requirement when they bought their homes. Others weren't aware of the change.
"If I was ever aware of it, I would never have sold those lots for that purpose," Todd Weston said.
In the end, the Council voted 3-2 to change the front yard width requirement for duplexes to 80 feet on Lamplighter St. only.
The council decided to make no changes in another zoning issue. The Clover Ridge subdivision will stay R-1-8, which has side yard requirements of at least 8 and 10 feet, rather than switching to an R-1-10 designation, which would require side yards of at least 10 and 14 feet.
"That gives potential homeowners a little more latitude in making their homes a little wider," said Jablonski.
Developer Dan Hogan had complied with the wishes of the city to make the lots 10,000 square feet rather than the minimum 8,000-square feet required for the R-1-8 designation. The Council was concerned that it might be possible for a buyer to buy multiple lots and split them into 8,000-square foot portions. After reviewing the map of the area, they determined it wasn't a risk.
In other business, the Council discussed the new computerized water meter reader. They also reviewed a study of possibilities for the sewer plan and talked about improvements for Hillside Park.
Archived Months:September 1998