WARSAW — Definitions of types of residential units was the main topic of business for the new nine-member Warsaw Plan Commission Monday evening, Jan. 11. Following a 45-minute discussion the result is Tim Dombrosky, assistant city planner, will draft a new set of definitions for the commission to review. The goal is to better define, combine or strike current and new needed residential definitions.
Dombrosky opened the discussion which focused on how the city should handle nontraditional residential uses. The main objective was to better define certain residential terms int he content of the zoning ordinance. The intent is to have uses that can be classified and addressed, which includes better definition for family, recovery house, single family and dwelling units and others.
He noted the main objective for the process is permitting the private use of individual property while protective the city/citizens from any adverse effects.
The need for a change was noticed over the past six months with requests made that did not fit into any category.
The planning department did not “have a clear intent going in (to the discussion),” said Dombrosky. But the result desired is, “we want to have clear intent at the end.”
The definitions of dwellings — family, residential facility, boardinghouse and lodginghouse — were looked at to see how undefined uses such as recovery home, “college house” and cottage/carriage house could fit in or new definitions added to the existing ordinances. Dombrosky stated many of these definitions contradict one another or need a clearer definition. In the case of residential facility is based on state statute and cannot be change.
Such confusions was noted with the definition of family, indicating that definition was “weird” as it was trying to define two things at the same time. He suggested this definition be simplified.
Some council members suggested changing the definition of family to that of a single housekeeping unit. There was also the opinion to remove lodginghouse, combining the definition of residential with college/shared housing, and create new definitions for recovery house and carriage house/cottage.
An approach suggested by Dombrosky and Jeremy Skinner, city planner, is to look at the impact, use and then create a category. “A typical family is four people in a residential neighborhood,” stated Skinner. “A recovery house could have six to 18 people, a college house three to six people.” The impact he noted was the number of vehicles. Most residences have two vehicles, a recovery house may have six or more vehicles and a college house may have six vehicles. “The more important question is how does it fit? What is the impact (of having additional vehicles in a residential area.)”
Dombrosky noted the department could have presented the commission with predefined definitions, but they wanted to receive input from the members before proceeding.
The commission will look further at the changes at its February meeting. The discussion could include restrictions if the commission members are comfortable with the definitions.