Monday, May 20, 2013
Property Restrictions Outlined in Title 21 Zoning, Land Use Code
The code spells out exact locations for residential, commercial and industrial development. But it’s not just about where things are; it also sets strict standards for how they look.
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan released on Wednesday his recommendations on the Title 21 plan, the municipality’s zoning and land use code.
Zoning officials and local lawmakers have been working to rewrite and upgrade the code since 2003, and it has several steps left before it goes to the Anchorage Assembly for a final vote.
Those involved in the process said there’s a reason behind the extended timeline.
"Anything that you want to do with your property, or your neighbors do with their property, it's covered in that section of law,” said assemblywoman Debbie Ossiander, chairwoman of the body’s Title 21 review committee.
The code spells out exact locations for residential, commercial and industrial development, and it’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to find a business within walking distance of your home in most parts of town.
"In Anchorage, most of the time you have to drive somewhere from where you live,” said Janis Fleischman, owner of the Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop in downtown Anchorage.
The bakery sits in the heart of a downtown residential neighborhood, and because of Title 21, it’s one of the few of its kind in Anchorage.
"This is one of the original markets in Anchorage,” Fleischman said, pointing to the blue tin building housing the bakery and several other small businesses. “This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Anchorage, and at that time, they put the market surrounded by houses."
When Title 21 was rewritten in 1969, mixed-use developments like Fleischman’s became few and far between.
It’s not just where things are: The code also sets strict standards for how they look.
"What your landscaping should look like if you're going to open a new business, how many parking spaces you're required to have, where your dumpster should be, what it should look like,” Ossiander said, listing the various areas governed by the code.
It even sets requirements for the number of windows on the front of a house, width for sidewalks and driveways, and even house colors.
So while the rewrite process might be long, the code leaves no stone unturned.
"Basically, think about something in relation to property development, and you'll find it in Title 21,” Ossiander said.