In the last year, city officials have pushed for higher-quality homes in Greenwood, requiring certain building materials and lot sizes, but some developers are fighting against it.
Recently, the city reached an agreement with Fischer Homes, which is currently developing the Trails at Woodfield and Brighton Estates in Greenwood, allowing them to not meet some of those new standards.
The home builder had filed their plans for the neighborhoods before the new architectural standards were approved and argued those guidelines should not apply to them. The city board of zoning appeals didn’t exclude the new neighborhoods from having to follow all the standards but did agree to loosen them, including thinner vinyl siding and smaller garages.
And city officials know this won’t be the last argument between the city and a developer over the new standards, planning director Bill Peeples said. At least two other neighborhoods could be in a similar position, where construction began before the city’s new guidelines were approved, but construction of additional homes and sections will need to be approved by the city.
Under the city’s rules, a developer has to follow the city’s new guidelines for what the houses will look like if it requires approval for a primary or secondary plat, which are detailed construction plans filed with the city. Every developer that filed those final plans before June 2015 was grandfathered in under the old architectural standards, Peeples said.
The new architectural standards and larger lot sizes are part of an overall focus by city officials for more quality, not quantity, in housing developments. They require different pitch, or steepness, of the roof, quality materials, such as tile and slate, decorative garage doors, bay windows and shutters and decorative columns on front porches.
But developers, such as Fischer Homes, have several issues with the new guidelines.
Earlier this year, when the developer sold two lots in the Trails at Woodfield, the city denied their construction plans because they didn’t meet the new architectural standards, including the size of the garage, which way it faces and what types of building materials will be used for the siding of the home.
The developers argued those new guidelines shouldn’t apply to them, since construction plans were filed with the city for both subdivisions prior to the new standards being approved. The company filed an appeal with the Greenwood Board of Zoning Appeals, asking that both subdivisions be excluded from the new architectural standards, according to documents filed.
The Trails at Woodfield already has multiple homes built under the city’s old architectural standards. One of the main reasons Fischer Homes appealed the city’s denial was because homes in the same subdivision would look completely different from each other, said Steve Huddleston, attorney for Fischer Homes.
Half of the subdivision would be built to old architectural standards and the rest under the new ones. Fischer Homes has more homes already built than they do empty lots waiting to be sold, so the majority of the houses in that subdivision would resemble the old standards, Huddleston said.
Fischer Homes argued that because the subdivision was already under construction before the new standards were approved, it should be allowed to continue building under the old standards. The new standards also placed a financial burden on Fischer Homes because of the time and money needed to go back and redesign homes with new materials, Huddleston said.
The city of Greenwood and Fischer Homes resolved the dispute by agreeing to exclude the developer from some of the new architectural standards, Huddleston said.
City officials will consider arguments from developers about the standards. For example, if a developer has built homes on 120 of the 150 lots in a subdivision under the old standards, then requesting that the remaining 30 lots be built the same way makes sense, Peeples said.
Here is a look at some of the new architectural standards:
- 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 or thick vinyl siding
- Windows are required on all sides of the home that face the street.
- Decorative garage doors and bigger garages
- Steeper roofs
- Sun rooms and screened porches must be built with the same material as the home and have the same roofing materials.
Some of the alterations to the new standards Fischer Homes and Greenwood agreed on.
- Gradual roof incline
- Thinner vinyl siding
- Smaller garages