A less talked-about provision of the new zoning code implemented at the end last summer is a new restriction on three story homes on blocks that predominantly feature two-story dwellings. For developers who wish to construct three story houses on two story blocks, the code requires an eight-foot setback on the third story, to help preserve the scale on the block and to prevent the jagged tooth look that some blocks have acquired in recent years (looking at you, 2000 block of Pemberton).
Last month, the SOSNA Zoning Committee was faced with an application for 2041 Kimball St., a two story home that new owners were seeking to replace with a three-story home without the required setback. Some neighbors objected, and several members of the board were insistent that the developers follow the rules set out in the new zoning code.
Earlier this week, the developer returned to SOSNA, having met with the neighbors and made a couple of changes to the plan. This included enlarging the backyard, aligning the window heights with the other windows on the block, reducing the number of steps to the front door, and continuing the cornice line of the homes next door across the facade. Check out the renderings, from KJO Architecture.
Clearly, the new zoning code is still being vetted in community meetings like this, and its new rules and regulations are being tested in the real world. While we can understand the idea behind the third floor setback rule, we also believe that its applicability can and should depend on the circumstances on the block in question as well as the willingness of the near neighbors to support exceptions to it.
In this case, the neighbors and the community at large were very much in support of the project. Whether the SOSNA Zoning Board provided their support as well we cannot say, but in light of the support from the neighbors, we hope that they did.