Officials in Bargersville want to update the approval process when new homes are proposed.
One goal of the approval process is to make sure that new homes built on a street do not all look the same. The town has restrictions in place to prevent the homes built in new subdivisions from looking too similar. Homes are to vary in eight specific building characteristics, including the number of stories, width, roof design and the location of the garage.
Currently, before a new home can be built, the town’s planning director and two members of the planning commission must review plans to ensure that at least three of those eight qualities are different from the houses around them, Bargersville town manager Kevin McGinnis said.
But realistically, there’s no practical, timely way to have three people inspect every new home’s plans to make sure the house meets the requirements.
That’s partly because, after a new subdivision is approved, plans for new homes come in individually. About 75 new homes were proposed last year, and having three people approve each permit takes too much time, McGinnis said.
“I think for the residents of Bargersville the intent was good. I just don’t know how you would enforce some of these guidelines,” he said.
The proposed changes to the zoning ordinance would still require homes to distinguish themselves from houses next door and across the street. But one person, the planning director, would approve the plans, McGinnis said.
“It’s going to be a little easier format to review,” he said.
The proposed changes, which could be approved by the town council this month, also would eliminate specific architectural requirements for houses that, realistically, Bargersville has no way to enforce. That includes the minimum square footage for garages, McGinnis said.
“I don’t know if we should be sticking our nose into minimum garage square footage,” he said.
The proposed changes wouldn’t affect the architectural requirements for businesses or commercial structures, McGinnis said.
Town officials likely will conduct a more comprehensive review of Bargersville’s zoning ordinances, including any changes made to the housing requirements, later this year, McGinnis said.