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City Approves Small-Lot Regulations

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Property-straddling prohibited

New rules for small-lot development will soon be in place following Austin City Council's passing of new policies, reports the Austin Business Journal.

With surprising little controversy surrounding the issue, the council voted to prohibit the demolition of homes that cross lot lines and building new houses on the subdivided lots, according to the Journal.

Council originally took up the issue at the behest of staff members, who were concerned about the lack of regulation on existing small, or substandard lots (5,750 square feet or less) that neighborhoods were allowed to give amnesty for existing or new structures that would not be allowed under current codes, with the goal of preserving affordability.

Staff was concerned with the demolition of smaller homes and the building of larger ones on such lots, and particularly the building of larger homes that straddle adjacent small lots, effectively making them one larger lot. The primary issue with such construction is that the new homes would be out of reach of the means of most people living in the surrounding neighborhoods, when the idea of amnesty had instead been to preserve affordability in those areas.

Planning and Zoning department officials did agree with supporters of the new regulations that the small-lot amnesty program was not intended to facilitate the demolition of existing housing, added the Journal, but did express concern that the rules might make it more difficult to build affordable housing on those sites.

Austin small-lot development rule changes get final approval [Austin Business Journal]