Plan calls for radical zoning

To the editor:

One of the elements of the draft Hancock master plan is a change in zoning from the current density-based zoning (the familiar R-1, etc.) to something called “form-based coding.” This is a significant shift in emphasis, as form-based coding does not restrict the use of buildings, only their appearance to the public. In other words, if form-based coding is adopted, the single-family designation that has applied to all residential districts zoned R-1 will disappear.  

Eliminating R-1 zoning opens up your neighborhood to real-estate speculation. There will be no legal way to stop a house from being turned into multi-unit housing so long as the appearance of the building is not changed. There will be no legal way to stop a developer from constructing multi-unit housing in your neighborhood so long as the building maintains the “character” of the neighborhood. In fact, this is actually promoted in the Hancock master plan (p. 50).

With the single-family restriction gone, a landlord could pack renters into a house in a residential neighborhood with no recourse for the neighbors. Also, if form-based coding is implemented as it has been in other municipalities, there would be rigid requirements regarding your house’s appearance, and any changes will require prior approval from the city.

The draft contains more background, analysis, and web resources regarding the proposed zoning changes.

If you don’t want to wake up next door to a house with a dozen unrelated occupants, you need to act to keep the protection that R-1 zoning provides. Contact the Hancock City Council and demand to keep R-1 zoning protection for all residential districts in Hancock before the master plan is adopted. The final hearing is Dec. 11.