Greenwood is saying enough to neighborhoods with narrowly spaced homes that look identical to the house on the left, right and across the street.
They want homes with character, including materials such as brick and stone, different angled roofs and a minimum of a two-car garage.
And that doesn’t go for just higher-end homes with price tags above $250,000. The city wants to require it for starter homes, priced between $100,000 and $150,000.
Under a proposal requested by the city council, when a developer plans to build a new subdivision in Greenwood, each home will be required to have a minimum of six to eight features from a list of architectural standards, giving homes a high-end, quality look, regardless of the price. Think of the type of homes you might see in Fishers, officials say.
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The changes are part of an overall focus by city officials for more quality, not quantity, in housing developments. Nearly 75 percent of housing in Greenwood is starter homes worth less than $150,000, and the city needs a wider range of housing choices. Right now, Greenwood has too many starter homes, city engineer Mark Richards said.
So far this summer, the city council approved rezoning three properties to require developers to build homes on larger lots, with the hope of bringing in larger homes with higher price tags.
Now, the city is working to update its standards for homes planned in any subdivision — no matter the price tag. The new standards would apply to future developments, planning director Bill Peeples said. The planning department and plan commission have not decided whether previously approved developments that haven’t been built yet would have to follow these standards once they’re passed, Peeples said.
The goal of the new standards, which would still need a recommendation by the plan commission and approval from the city council, is to provide a wider range of housing choices, Richards said.
The proposed standards are mirrored from the city of Fishers’ standards, Peeples said. He said he chose the look Fishers has because he wanted something tried and proven in Indiana.
Different pitch, or steepness, of the roof, quality materials, such as tile and slate, decorative garage doors, bay windows, shutters and decorative columns on front porches are just some of the items on what Peeples said will serve as a menu for developers.
For example, homes with price tags below $200,000 often had vinyl siding on the exterior of the house. Instead, officials would like to see more stone or brick. The idea is to give new homes more character because homes that look like boxes don’t have any variety to them, city council member Bruce Armstrong said.
In those homes, there are no shutters on the windows, the façade is set back, and it looks like simple holes were cut in the siding for windows and doors, plan commission member John Shell said.
All homes need local flavor, interest and charm, he said.
“If you look at the $80,000 or $125,000 homes that were built 10 years ago, those homes are cubes,” Shell said. “There’s no character to the houses or the neighborhood. The streets are straight, no curvature. I’d have to look at the address to know which house was mine because they all look alike.”
Some of the other standards include a minimum two-car garage, and if a garage doesn’t face the street it must have windows on the side that faces the street. And front doors are required to face the street with a minimum of one decorative light fixture.
“We’re getting away from the standard $100,000 home that we have too many of,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said. “We need our housing requirements to make for a nice, upscale look.”
But as much as the city wants to avoid building only starter homes, it can’t base new development solely on homes priced above $250,000, Shell said.
“Someone who makes enough money, he’s going to have that $300,000 home. I want to bring better quality to everyone,” Shell said.
“I want it for the factory worker that only makes $20 an hour and has two kids and a wife that stays home with the kids. They deserve it as much as anyone. If you require builders to use their imagination, put $5,000 into an $80,000 home, it can make it look like a $100,000 home.”
The proposal was sent back to the planning department to expand the choices of roof pitch and other details before it is brought before the plan commission at the next plan commission meeting in September.
The plan commission will pass the proposal on to the city council with a recommendation, where it will need a majority vote in order to be passed.
Some of the main architectural standards the city wants to enforce:
- The front of one-story homes must have a minimum of four features.
- The front of two-story homes must have a minimum of six features.
- Brick or stone as opposed to vinyl
- Windows are required on all sides of the home that face the street.
- Decorative garage doors
- Sun rooms and screened porches must be built with the same material as the home and have the same roofing materials.