ZPC Recommends Prohibiting Basements From Being Built In West U

July 27, 2010

The decision whether to regulate basements being built in West U, or to prohibit them altogether, proved to be a difficult one for the city’s Zoning and Planning Commission, taking more than a year-and-a-half to bring to a recommendation to city council.

During Monday’s special council meeting, the ZPC recommended basements and subterranean structures should not be allowed.

In November of 2008, city council asked the ZPC and the Building and Standards Commission for a recommendation on whether to permit basements with strict regulations or to prohibit them entirely. That recommendation – an outright prohibition – finally came during Monday’s special city council meeting.

“The bottom line is, don’t do it,” Mayor Bob Kelly said before the discussion with the ZPC began.

ZPC Chair Steve Brown said the commission and the BSC spent a good deal of time trying to come up with regulations, but in the end determined it would be better to prohibit them.

Even though basements would be generally prohibited for homeowners, regulations would allow certain partially below-grade structures to be built, such as an elevator well.

BSC member Laurinda Lankford told council that she thinks the property owner should be able to decide if they want to build a basement.

Councilmember George Boehme said he understands the property owners rights, but “the people next door have property rights too.”

Some of the reasons for banning basements included the impact on neighbors, an increase in property damage or personal safety risks because of floods and enforcing uses once the basement is built.

“I think it defies common sense for people to build basements in West U,” Brown said.

Councilmember Chuck Guffey said if a resident really wanted a wine cellar, “they could come in and ask for one.”

Council took no action on the recommendation, but is expected to schedule it for further discussion at a future meeting.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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