Riverfront-4 Zone

Issue: Riverfront Residential (RF-4) district.

Analysis:  In August, the Planning Commission appointed a Committee to review riverfront development and zoning issues. These issues included questions regarding density, lot size, building height, uses, and right to a view shed of the river. After discussion of the various options, and research of various ordinances by staff, the committee decided to go ahead with the creation of a new zone for riverfront development, called the Riverfront Residential RF-4 zone to better regulate and encourage river view residential development. The proposed RF-4 zone has the following characteristics:

Uses:  The new Riverfront Residential District (RF-4) was created to allow only residential development along river view properties, a void that the existing riverfront districts which allow either parks, or downtown related commercial and residential uses, did not address.  Uses in the RF-4 district are restricted to single family homes, condominiums, townhouses, and parks.

Density: Higher densities are allowed in the RF-4 district, to reflect the higher prices and development value of river view properties. Densities include 8,000 sq. minimums for Townhouse and Condominium development, and 2,000 sq. minimums for single family homes.  Lot coverage maximums, lot setbacks, and lot widths have also been reduced to allow more density.

View sheds: One of the major challenges of riverfront development is to protect the view sheds of adjoining properties that do not front the river, and may have their river view obstructed by new development. With this in mind, the ordinance created view corridors, in which setbacks and a prohibition on all buildings (even solid fences) within 10’ or 12’ corridors is required.

Height: Due to the desirability and cost of river view properties, developers are likely to build vertically to maximize cost. However, higher building heights also may block the view of the river for adjoining properties and the general public. Therefore, a height limit of 35 feet was agreed on, allowing an increase of 5 feet from the traditional residential zoning district, so as to allow additional vertical construction and not harm the neighbors. A height exception was created for cupolas, chimneys, spires, and elevator shafts, for greater design flexibility.

Aesthetics and Form: Minimum material building standards are required, along with building size minimums for townhouses and condominiums. Therefore condominiums over 60 feet in width will have break up the design of the façade to give the impression there are multiple smaller building connected together, and no townhouse or condominium may be over 80 feet in width. This was required to make sure river views of the public and adjoining property owners would not be completely obstructed. In addition, properties are allowed minimum setbacks along the front, and balconies are permitted over the front setback.

Natural Buffer: A minimum undisturbed buffer of 25 feet is required on properties adjoining the Ohio River. No building or clearing of this buffer is permitted.

Roadway Access: Lots only have to possess some frontage on a public roadway, not actual road access onto a public roadway, thus allowing developers to utilize private drives and easement and not be restricted regarding site layout.  This encourages developers to use shared drives, or perhaps even build detached garages to the rear.

Document: Riverfront Residential 9_29_14 Final