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Huntsville City Council to Vote on Development Code Changes

Proposed Huntsville Development Code Changes Coming Under Fire by Citizens


Tuesday’s Huntsville City Council meeting is shaping up to be something of a battleground between property rights advocates and “beautification” proponents. At its next meeting on Tuesday, July 21, The Huntsville City Council will consider several new changes to the City’s Development Code that would have a dramatic effect on both residents and businesses within the City. Some of the proposed changes will also affect people living within Huntsville’s ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction) which extends out for 2 miles beyond the City Limits in all directions.

Here is a summary of a few of the proposed changes and some of the likely consequences:

Mobile/Manufactured Homes – Prohibit new manufactured/mobile homes anywhere in the City of Huntsville except in City-approved Mobile Home Parks.
This proposed ruling has many implications. This rule effectively eliminates an existing category of residential and business property except for those already in place.

More costly structure types will likely drive both residential and commercial lease rates higher as the options for more cost-effective solutions are removed.

New Mobile Home Parks – New mobile home parks could be constructed only in areas approved by the City. These would be allowed in areas zoned as “Management” only after a “Conditional Use Permit” has been obtained from the City. The Conditions that would be required to obtain such permits are not specified.

Depending on the requirements for a “Conditional Use Permit” it may be cost-prohibitive to develop any new mobile home parks within Huntsville. Lot space rental rates within existing parks will continue to rise if no new parks can be developed to meet rising demand as population growth continues.

Paved Parking Lots Required – All new parking lots must be paved with concrete, asphalt or an equivalent material approved by the City.

This may affect the start-up and maintenance costs of some smaller businesses as these are significant costs added to the new construction.

Skirting – will now be required on all new pier and beam structures; this requirement was already in place for new manufactured/mobile homes.

This requirement will increase construction costs for all new construction of pier-and-beam structures within the City of Huntsville.

Sidewalks – Sidewalks will be required for new developments and must be constructed in accordance with the City’s Sidewalks Master Plan, on all Arterial and Collector Streets, and on all but single-family new residential projects.

If you own an empty lot and want to build a residential or commercial multi-occupant structure (even a duplex), you must provide a sidewalk and probably a paved parking lot. These costs must be paid by the property owner and will result in overall higher construction costs for new construction within Huntsville.
Underground Utilities – Overhead utilities will be prohibited for many;  everyone will be required to install underground utilities on all new developments except when utilities on both sides are above ground.

This will mean increased construction costs for anyone building new construction within Huntsville.

Parkland – This change removes the developers’ option to pay a fee to the City in lieu being forced to “give” 10% of the proposed residential development to the City. The current code allows that a residential developer may dedicate to the City 10% of the area being used for development for parkland OR can pay a fee equivalent the value of that 10% so that the City can purchase land elsewhere to be used as parkland.

Residential developers that want to develop smaller tracts of land may find it no longer cost-effective to do so; lot prices will likely increase.

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