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Height Recommendations

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  1. Height Recommendations September 25, 2008 Zoning Commission Case No. 08-06-01 The District of Columbia Office of Planning’s Comprehensive Review of Zoning Regulations September 25, 2008

  2. Height Regulation Background • 1910 Height Act • Height measured by width of street • District Zoning Regulations: • Height measured by zone • May be more restrictive than Height Act • Both documents are interpreted by the Zoning Administrator September 25, 2008

  3. Height Topic Area Review Process • Working Group • Taskforce • Public Review • Zoning Commission September 25, 2008

  4. GOALS OF HEIGHT REGULATION PROPOSALS • Make Consideration of Height in Zoning Regulations Clearer and More Predictable • Acknowledge Ambiguities in Regulation of Height • Resolve Potential Differences by Balancing: • Previous Interpretations and Precedent • National Symbolism of Skyline and Tradition of Horizontality • Physical Factors • Sustainability Considerations • Impact on Development Potential September 25, 2008

  5. Major Topics Considered • Determining a Building’s Maximum Permitted Height • Measuring a Building’s Height • Understanding the Types and Heights of Structures Permitted Above a Roof September 25, 2008

  6. Topics Not Considered HERE • Appropriate Heights for Particular Zones or Locations • Whether the Height Act Should be Changed September 25, 2008

  7. September 25, 2008

  8. Recommendations • DETERMINING MAXIMUM PERMITTED HEIGHT Rec. 1: Streets with multiple frontages Rec. 2: Streets fronting on open space Rec. 3: Business vs. Residence streets Rec. 4: Single vs. Multiple Buildings B. MEASURING A BUILDING’S HEIGHT Rec. 5: Location of Bottom Measuring Point Rec. 6: Elevation of Bottom Measuring Point Rec. 7: Natural Grade Rec. 8: Top Measuring Point C. STRUCTURES ABOVE A ROOF Rec. 9: Structures Permitted Atop a Roof Rec. 10: Height, Width, Massing Rec. 11: Roof Structure Setbacks Rec. 12: Exterior Walls September 25, 2008

  9. Rec. 1:Frontage on Multiple Streets • Any street abutting a building’s property line may be used to determine the maximum height. • There should be no requirement for the presence of an door or entrance. • Consistent with current practice. Clarifies that a building may draw height from any side regardless of the presence of a door.

  10. Rec. 2: Buildings Confronting Federal Reservations or Open Space Clarify what R-O-W may be used to determine height May use “A”, “B”, “C” or “D” but not “E” or “F” May not add two R-O-W or include reservation 10

  11. Rec. 2: Potentially Affected Federal Reservations or Open Space 11

  12. Rec. 3: Residence & Business Streets • A “Residence street” would be a) any block face that contains any residential property located in a low to moderate density zone district; or b) any block face entirely made up of properties of any existing residential zone. • A “Business street” would mean any other block face. As with Recommendation 1, a property adjacent to both a commercial and a residence street could choose its frontage. 12

  13. Rec. 3: Residence & Business Streets 13

  14. Rec. 4: Single Building or Multiple Buildings? 14

  15. Rec. 4: Single Building or Multiple Buildings? • Existing regulations: • do not recognize connections below ground • imply connections must be above ground • provide no definition of above ground connection • There is little consistency in existing practice • Applicant burdened with proving undefined “meaningful connection” 15

  16. OP Recommends: Distinction between single & multiple buildings needs to be clarified To be considered single, a building must have The presence of an enclosed connection that permits passage by building users on at least one floor And/or Common usable space accessible by all occupants of the building Rec. 4: Single Building or Multiple Buildings? 16

  17. Rec. 5: Location of Bottom Measuring Point Clarify the location of the measuring point for building height when a building faces more than one street. 17

  18. Rec. 5: Bottom Measuring Point Option 1: The street chosen to determine the maximum allowable height must also be used to determine the point from which building height is measured. • New approach that ensures that height on at least one frontage is based on street width • Could decrease amount of square footage developable on through block sites with significant elevation changes • Potentially makes dozens of downtown buildings non-conforming 18

  19. Rec. 5: Bottom Measuring Point Option 2: Any abutting street may be used to determine the measuring point regardless of which street is used to determine maximum allowable height. • Follows over 50 years of precedent • Would not affect existing or planned projects • Preserves existing development potential within the Height Act 19

  20. Rec. 6: Elevation of Bottom Measuring Point OP Recommends: • Measure from the front of the building based on the elevation of the curb plus a slope for drainage. • Height Act says sidewalk • Zoning Regulations say curb 20

  21. Rec. 7: Natural Grade • Clarify definition of natural grade and measuring point for elevated or depressed areas • Natural grade is the ground elevation prior to issuance of first permit needed for new building construction. • Where street frontage is affected by an artificial elevation, height is measured from the logical continuation of the surrounding street grid 21

  22. Rec. 8: Top Measuring Point • Buildings shall be measured to the top of the roof including any parapet on exterior walls, or any other continuation of the exterior walls. • Buildings below the Height Act may add a 4’ parapet 22

  23. Rec. 9: Structures Permitted Atop a Roof Organize and modernize the list of structures allowed on the roof. • Ornamental features limited to spires, towers, domes, pinnacles, and minarets, that are aesthetic, primarily vertical elements of a building, even if used to cover/hide/mask utilitarian or amenity features; 23

  24. Rec. 9: Structures Permitted Atop a Roof Organize and modernize the list of structures allowed on the roof. • Utilitarian features including, but not limited to, mechanical equipment, safety railings, stairwell access, elevator penthouses, and building components or appurtenances dedicated to the environmental sustainability of the building; and Utilitarian Ornamental Utilitarian 24

  25. Rec. 9: Structures Permitted Atop a Roof Organize and modernize the list of structures allowed on the roof. • Amenity features such as structures accessory to communal outdoor recreation space, communal pergolas, communal enclosed recreation space, and structures limited to providing individual unit access to private, unenclosed space atop a roof. 25

  26. Rec. 10: Height, Width and Massing of Structures Atop a Roof • Remove roof structures from FAR calculation and allowed to occupy up to 40% of roof area • Remove uniform height & single enclosure requirements • Utilitarian and amenity features may not rise more than 20’ above the roof • Ornamental features: • 30’ limit • may contain utilitarian or amenity features • Special Exception relief allowed for all of these requirements 26

  27. Rec. 11: Setbacks for Structures Atop a Roof • Utilitarian and amenity features shall be set back 1 to 1 from: • exterior wall (Rec. 12); (b) wall set back from and facing a side lot line; (c) lot line wall when taller than adjacent building Special Exception relief allowed for these requirements Additional Study is needed for  setbacks atop rowhouses and single family homes 27

  28. Rec. 11: Setbacks Atop a Roof A C B 28

  29. Rec. 12: Exterior Walls An exterior wall is anywall facing a public street or alley • Decades of precedent have not considered alley facing walls to be exterior walls. • Recommendation would not consider party walls or other side walls to be exterior walls • BZA would not be able to grant setback relief from exterior walls above level of Height Act. 29

  30. Next Steps • Public Comments • Guidance from Zoning Commission • Drafting Proposed Zoning Text • Further Public Comment & Commission Consideration September 25, 2008