Building height limits remain unchanged | Letter
Editor, The Beacon:
I am responding to Mr. Plunkett's letter in last week's Beacon –– a letter that is replete with propaganda [“Box buildings are going up,” page 5, July 10].
The last time the height limit was changed in the downtown commercial zones was in 1981 when the maximum was reduced from 35 feet to the current 30 feet.
Since 1981, the base height limit has been 25 feet; codes since 1981 have addressed what happens in the 5 feet above 25 feet, but the 30-foot height limit has remained unchanged.
When the downtown commercial area was designated as the Community Business (BC) zone prior to 2006, a building was required to be modulated in order to be built as high as 30 feet.
The modulation reference went away in 2006 with the creation of the five Downtown Business (BD) zones that replaced the one BC zone.
In the Downtown Retail Core (BD1) zone that reference was replaced with mandatory design standards; in the other zones a 15-foot step back was required above 25 feet, but no design standards were required.
Over the years, staff and the Planning Board determined that the step back requirement was not practical and has helped deter any redevelopment since it became code.
City Council took their advice and eliminated the step back requirement, but required that the BD1 design standards be used.
Those design standards will prevent the construction of “box buildings.”
There has been no height increase; all that has changed is what is required to get to 30 feet.