Monday, May 16, 2011

Syracuse City: Banning Vinyl Siding?

 Vinyl siding melted by a fire next door.

A recent Standard Examiner article reported that Syracuse city has eliminated the option of  exclusively using vinyl siding on new construction in city boundaries.  A new ordinance passed this week now mandates that at least 38% of the exterior of a new home be composed of brick, rock, or stone.  Here is an excerpt of the new ordinance in section 10-6-020:

(B) Regulations for New Residential Construction.
1. A minimum thirty-eight (38) percent of the exterior wall construction for all single family detached, duplex, and single family attached town homes shall be constructed of brick, rock, or stone. The thirtyeight (38) percent coverage requirement shall be calculated by measuring all façades of the structure, from foundation to top plate line of the uppermost level, excluding openings for windows, doors, and trim, and multiplying that figure by thirty-eight (38) percent. The builder of the structure shall satisfy the thirty-eight (38) percent requirement by placing the brick, rock, or stone on one or more facades of the structure, provided the façade designated as the front of the structure has a minimum thirty-eight (38) percent of that façade covered with brick, rock, or stone
2. The requirement for brick, rock, or stone exterior wall construction shall apply to any single family detached, duplex, or single family attached town home planned as part of a development for which the City approved a preliminary plat after the effective date of this Title.
I have long been a fan of design restrictions on new construction.  Critics will argue that they unfairly increase the cost of construction.  However, I would argue that they increase the aesthetic and long term appeal of a community.  Also, not all cities can justify to their public a restriction on new construction design.  It would seem that a foundation of architectural style or common construction practice would need to be in place as a precedent to allow the public to support such a measure by city government.       

Midway, Utah is an excellent example how design restrictions have created a community with distinct character and value.  I have encouraged Ogden City to adopt similar ordinances for its Historic neighborhoods in the city core.  Fortunately, much of the new construction in Downtown Ogden recently has been designed to blend with the surrounding structures.  However, formalizing the design guidelines in the zoning code would prevent odd-balls from arising in these traditional architectural neighborhoods.     

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