A proposed zoning amendment to regulate how homes can be added on to was taken off the table last year but, following a few controversial expansions, is now being reconsidered.
The proposed amendment was discussed extensively last year by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, with considerable outcry from some homeowners in town. The proposal, to limit expansions on existing homes to 30 percent of their original size, was an effort to preserve the character of neighborhoods and prevent "McMansions" from being built.
Now, the matter will be reconsidered - this time including language limiting the size of garages and outbuildings that can be constructed.
That would give the commission the power to prevent such structures as the new red barn at the top of Plainville Avenue from being built.
"The genesis of the proposed regulations was a few structures in town in residential zones completely out of scale," said Commission Chairman Phil Dunn at a recent meeting. "We tried to come up with a way to regulate that and not prohibit someone from building as they saw fit, provided the mass of the structure didn’t offend the neighbors or our sensibilities."
The size of the expansion and of the outbuilding which could be built would be relative to the size of the house and its zone.
The regulation, if approved, wouldn't prohibit a structure from being built, rather it would require a special permit from the zoning commission.
"The reason I asked this be put back on the agenda was the red barn on Plainville Avenue. Under these regulations, it would not have been allowed without a special permit, which would have allowed the commission to regulate that project better," Dunn said.
The barn - or garage - which is now loosely attached to a white house at 267 Plainville Avenue, prompted a flood of angry calls and emails from residents to public officials. One Town Council member was told the structure "was a slap in the face of Unionville."
Dunn also suggested reducing the requirement from a full set of building plans to documents which would sufficiently illustrate a homeowner's planned expansion, since members of the public commented last year that producing a full set of plans was an unreasonable expense.
The proposed regulation was on the zoning commission agenda for the Jan. 28 meeting but was not fully discussed. The issue has been continued to a future meeting and will likely be subject to a public hearing.