City applies for rezone to address code discrepancies
After a quiet year, the Victor Hotel and Workforce Housing project might be back on the slate for Jonathan Fenn's property northwest of downtown Victor.
In January 2018, the Victor Planning and Zoning Commission approved a subdivision concept plan for the developer’s 20-acre property across the highway from Larkspur Avenue. In addition to a hotel, a grid of four-plexes, and a mixed commercial development fronting the highway, the Victor Hotel and Workforce Housing concept plan also included 13 cottage courts with 108 units total. Cottage courts are neighborhoods of small houses that share an internal courtyard, but some in the city feel the building type has been misused and even abused in the last few years.
Only a month after the concept plan was approved, the Victor City Council voted to remove the cottage court building type from the residential zones RS-7 and RS-5, where lots are at minimum 7,000 or 5,000 square feet respectively. That decision eliminated the possibility that cottage courts could be built on some of the large tracts of land on periphery of town, including Fenn’s property. In 2018 two other developers had to apply for rezones in order to be able to build cottage courts on their properties as they had originally planned.
Now the city is taking it upon itself to apply for a rezone of the western 16 acres of the Fenn parcel from RS-7 to RS-3, which still allows cottage courts. City planner Ryan Krueger explained that the reason the city and not the developer is applying for the rezone is to “reset expectations” of the planning department.
Originally the city had also applied for five variances to allow additional cottage courts above the maximum allowed at the Fenn property, because when the council passed design standards last year, one change to the code was to reduce the maximum number of units allowed in a cottage court from ten to eight. However, Krueger said that application had been “reevaluated by staff” and was withdrawn last week.
Fenn still has an eight-month window before his concept plan approval expires and he has to resubmit a concept plan. Krueger noted that any future development of the property will require site plan approval and design review and will have to conform to the Victor Land Use Code.
Krueger acknowledged that the city has struggled with staff continuity issues, having seen four planners hold the position in the past four years. Now Victor has a larger planning department than ever, with Krueger, assistant planner Tyler Steinway, and a summer intern on staff, as well as former Driggs planner Ashley Koehler, who is still doing contract work for Victor. Krueger said he anticipates more outreach opportunities as a result.
“We want people to participate in the process,” he said. “I really enjoy receiving public comment. Bring it on.”
Before the public comment period closed last week, the city had received 44 letters in opposition to the rezone and none in favor. Community members still have a chance to comment on Tuesday; the rezone will be one of four public hearings to be held during the P&Z meeting on April 16 at 7 p.m. at Victor City Hall. Visit the city's website for more information.