KCMO Planning & Zoning committee tables controversial lot width ordinance

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Neighbors across Kansas City are expressing concern about a proposed zoning change the city council is considering. If approved, the measure could allow homes to be built on smaller lots and closer together.

The issue came to light after a zoning dispute near 16th & Jefferson. A couple is wanting to build a home on a lot that is just 25 feet wide. It could be as little as two and a half feet away from the houses on either side.

Current city code requires new homes to be built on lots at least 30 feet wide. There are some exceptions to the rule, but where it gets tricky, is if someone owns more than one lot. Under current rules, multiple lots owned by the same person become a single property and cannot be split up for separate developments.

A new proposal the city planning and zoning committee reviewed Wednesday, would not only allow people to build more easily on 25-foot lots, it would also allow someone with a wider lot to sell part of it off for additional development.

Many neighbors, particularly on the west side, and in other popular neighborhoods like West Plaza and Hyde Park, fear that could open the flood gates to allowing new homes to get crammed into tight spaces, and that newer construction wouldn't be in keeping with the character of older, established neighborhoods.

"There's a safety issue about having space between homes in terms of fire jumping from one house to another in terms of the foundation of your home and being able to work on it. Why would you want to have 2 1/2 ft between lots?  It didn't make since in 1888 and it certainly doesn't make sense in 2019," Barbara Marmor said.

The planning & zoning committee heard from people on both sides of the issue Wednesday and agreed it needs more time and would like to gather more input before making a decision.  It's hoping a solution can be found that's workable, to help fill in vacant lots within the city's urban core, without detracting from neighborhoods.

For now, the issue is being held off until a September meeting.

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