The city is considering revising a ban on duplexes in historic districts.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday discussed allowing duplexes left unoccupied for more than a year to continue existing as permitted structures, a departure from rules the city council approved over the summer.

When the city council revised the 2015 land development regulations this summer, the update allowed existing duplexes to continue operating, provided they’d been occupied within the past year.

“That created some issues with some existing duplex structures that were not able to be utilized or sold,” Senior Project Manage Adriel Montalvan said. “This allows for an existing duplex to continue its operation, regardless of whether there was a break in the use.”

This revision wouldn’t allow the duplex to expand, though, he said.

“If there’s discontinued use, that is not a penalty to the owner,” Chairwoman Carol Hollaway said.

Unoccupied duplexes aren’t the problem, Jeff Patterson, president of the East End Historical District Association, said.

“The thing I hear from people is the density, parking issue,” Patterson said.

His neighbors are concerned that duplexes add more residents, more drivers and more cars to a neighborhood, he said.

“They can’t park in front of their homes,” Patterson said.

As long as duplexes don’t dominate a neighborhood, Patterson doesn’t think parking would become an unmanageable issue, he said.

“We’ve just got to find a way to coexist,” Patterson said. “You’ve got to find the right balance. I think it’s livable.”

The revisions that came this summer culminated a year of work revising the 2015 land regulation document.

At the time, proponents of the duplex ban contended it would maintain the integrity of historic districts.

Citing lack of affordable housing, opponents worried the ban could take away some residents’ way of affording rent.

Since 2015, the city council has undertaken a number of revisions to land development regulations to update or clarify the document.

The planning commission is scheduled to accept a second round of comment from the public on the revision during its Dec. 18 meeting, before making a recommendation for city council.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; or on Twitter @HeathKeri.


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