The City is getting some outside help updating its Unified Development Code, an 18-month process that should make it easier for future developments.
Director of Development Services Jessica Scott said the updated codes will do away with complications that make it harder to build homes in already-zoned parts of the city. She said some homes in Ardmore are at least 100 years old. When older houses become dilapidated, fall apart over time or get torn down, the space left behind becomes an unkempt eyesore for the rest of the neighborhood.
“You need someone to come build that missing tooth so you have a complete smile,” Scott said. “It’s really a good thing for neighborhoods, but a lot of older lots in older parts of the city are tiny, so our code dictates they’re too small to build on. They’re not even close.”
The small lots don’t accommodate houses by today’s standards, but that leaves them standing unused and empty. Scott said the city has asked the Chicago-based company to consider things like incentives for potential builders to encourage builders to fill those gaps with infill housing, and even things like tiny houses might serve as a solution.
The mayor and board of commissioners voted to approve a $180,338 contract with Houseal Lavigne Associates. The new unified code should be complete within 18 months, starting in January. In the meantime, the city is planning to hold open meetings and forums to get feedback and suggestions from the public.
“They’re looking at other parts of the country that also have this issue,” Scott said. “We’d like them to think outside of the box. If it’s a tiny house, it’s a tiny house, and if it’s taking three small lots and putting them together into one weird-shaped lot, let’s do that, but we still don’t know,” Scott said.
Alex Mendoza, a construction supervisor with Milestone Homes, said he’s filled some of these neighborhood gaps by building new duplexes.
“All of them, at some point, had a house on them,” Mendoza said. “You get the already-existing roads and utilities, so the development doesn’t cost as much.”
Mendoza said in older neighborhoods, the existing utilities may need to be replaced.
“If the utilities are there, the city should welcome the fact that builders want to bring housing into town, and for the most part they do,” Mendoza said. “I think we should take advantage of all the infrastructure that Ardmore has.”
Ardmore’s population is currently projected to grow 6 percent by 2020, according to a recent analysis by the city.