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An introduction by Council Member Morris
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING ARTICLE VII (TRADITIONAL NEIGHBORHOOD DESIGN OVERLAY DISTRICT) OF CHAPTER 375 (ZONING) OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ALBANY.
The City of Albany, in Common Council convened, does hereby ordain and enact:
Section 1. Section 375-41 of Article VII of Chapter 375 of the Code of the City of Albany is hereby amended to read as follows:
§ 375‑41. Purpose and intent.
A. The Common Council finds and determines that there is a rich diversity of architectural styles and traditional neighborhood development patterns that contribute to the quality of life in the City of Albany. Many of Albany's neighborhoods built between the turn of the century and World War II have substantial concentrations of structures with architectural detailing, design features and craftsmanship rarely employed in more contemporary construction. Yet these neighborhoods may not be old enough or of such architectural or historical significance to qualify for formal historic district designation. An overlay district will serve to protect the character and special qualities of various neighborhoods by helping to maintain the design and architectural quality of individual properties within the context of these neighborhoods. The district shall be established in such neighborhoods that possess a high degree of original design integrity, that have a strong neighborhood cohesiveness and that are outside of formally designated historic districts where design is regulated under provisions of the Historic Resources Commission Ordinance.
B. These characteristics are also found in many of the neighborhood‑oriented commercial districts that are typically designated C‑1 Neighborhood Commercial. More importantly, these commercial districts are frequently immediately adjacent to residences, and their size, scale and overall compatibility should enhance the neighborhood, not overwhelm it. Large suburban setbacks and the need to accommodate off street parking are not compatible with the original pedestrian oriented architecture of the older neighborhood-oriented commercial districts. Standards are necessary to protect, re-establish and retain the unique aesthetic and architectural character, including retail display windows, side and rear parking, minimum setbacks and pedestrian oriented site design, prevalent in the existing neighborhood-oriented commercial districts. Therefore, these C‑1 Zoning Districts shall be included in the overlay district.
Section 2. Section 375-46 of Article VII of Chapter 375 of the Code of the City of Albany is hereby amended to read as follows:
§ 375‑46. Design guidelines for nonresidential properties.
A. [New construction.] New construction, reconstruction, or remodeling requiring a building permit shall be designed to be compatible in size and scale with existing commercial or institutional structures in the district and be oriented to the sidewalk, pedestrian and street rather than to a parking lot. The review provisions contained in Article VII shall be incorporated into the site plan review process where applicable.
[B. Storefronts. Properties should retain existing arrangements in regards to window size and placement, as well as entry orientation. Reduction or elimination of store windows or closing of business entrances shall be discouraged.]
B. Conflicts. The standards contained in this Section shall be in addition to the regulations of the underlying zoning districts. Where the provisions of the Section conflict with those of the underlying zoning district or other provisions of the Zoning Code the provisions of the Section shall prevail except within historic districts. Within historic districts the development standards established in Chapter 42, Part 4 shall apply.
(1) Backlit, plastic box signs shall be discouraged. Externally illuminated signs of wood or metal are preferred.
(2) Neon signage is appropriate if properly scaled to the facade of the business.
(3) Backlit, translucent awnings shall be discouraged, with preference given to traditional awnings of canvas, either retractable or stationary.
(4) All sign illumination shall be turned off at the end of business hours.
D. Building Setbacks. Front setbacks shall be determined according to the following methods. Buildings on corner lots shall be deemed to have two frontages and shall comply with the setback requirements for both front facades.
(1) The distance between the principal building or structure, or any portion thereof, and the right of way shall be a maximum distance of ten feet.
(2) There may be a public-private setback zone in front of each building. This zone allows for up to fifty percent of the frontage of the building or structure to be set back from the right of way of the street a maximum of fifteen feet. This additional space between the building or structure and the right of way shall be surfaced with an impervious masonry material and utilized for the primary entry, seating, outdoor eating, public art or similar pedestrian amenity.
E. Building Standards.
(1) Building facades facing public streets shall incorporate a main entrance door on the primary street.
(2) At least sixty percent of the façade facing a public street, between the height of two feet and ten feet above the sidewalk grade shall be window glass. This provision shall not apply for the conversion of a residential building to a commercial use.
(3) Facades which face public streets and exceed fifty feet in horizontal length, shall include vertical piers or other vertical visual elements to break the plane of the façade. Such vertical piers or any other vertical visual elements shall be between fifteen and thirty five feet apart along the façade. This provision shall not apply for the conversion of a residential building to a commercial use.
(4) All roof mounted mechanical equipment shall be screened from view from fifty feet off all property lines. The design and materials of mechanical enclosures shall be architecturally integrated with the rooftop and the balance of the entire building.
(5) All ground mounted mechanical equipment shall be screened from view to the height of the equipment.
(1) Parking and vehicular circulation shall be prohibited in the setback area. Parking, stacking and circulation aisles between the street and the building are also prohibited.
(2) Parking lots and parking structures shall be located at the rear or side of the principal building or structure. Where access to the rear of the property is not available from a public alley or street, the majority of parking shall be located to the rear of the principal building with remaining parking located to the side of the principal buildings.
(3) The parking setback line shall be a minimum of five feet.
(4) The required amount of off street parking shall not exceed twenty-five percent of the required amount of spaces pursuant to Section 375-185.
(5) For any permitted use, the required amount of off street parking may be reduced by up to fifty percent by the Board of Zoning Appeals in consultation with the Division of Traffic Safety. Factors to be considered include, but are not limited to:
(a) Availability of on street parking;
(b) Pedestrian traffic and accessibility;
(c) Availability of transit service;
(d) Availability of other public parking;
(e) Elimination of arterial curb cuts;
(f) Hours of operation;
(g) Shared parking options.
(6) All sides of any parking lot that front on public streets shall be screened using one of the following methods:
(a) Four-foot high steel tube or solid bar fence at the street right of way line with or without masonry pier supports, with a minimum three-foot wide landscaped area on the the parking lot side of the fence. Such landscaped areas shall be planted with ground cover, three foot high evergreen shrubs and trees.
(b) A four foot high masonry brick wall.
(7) All sides of any parking lot adjacent to a residence shall be screened using one or more of the following methods:
(a) Six feet solid stockade fencing;
(b) Shrubs that will reach a height of at least six feet;
(c) Six foot high chain link fence.
G. Drive-in Uses. Drive-in uses are permitted only in accordance with the following standards, which are in addition to all sections of this Chapter.
(1) Drive-in structures shall be attached to the building.
(2) Drive-in windows and services shall be accesssed only at the rear or side of the building.
Section 3. Except as herein amended, Article VII of Chapter 375 of the Code of the City of Albany is hereby ratified, approved and continued.
Section 4. The Common Council finds and declares the enactment of this ordinance to be a type II action having no significant adverse environmental impact.
Section 5. This ordinance shall take effect immediately.
Approved as to form this day of October, 1999.
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