Ordinance re-zones 35-acre parcel for patio houses, reconfigured lots

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed an ordinance on final reading last week that allows patio houses and accompanying changes to lot configurations.
Board members took the action Thursday night during their July 18 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Kelly Rector and seconded by Alderman John Troncone. The motion was passed by three affirmative votes, with Alderman Billy Ray Morris abstaining.
The ordinance amends the Oakland Municipal Zoning Map to re-zone 34.84 acres on the east side of Highway 194. The property is a portion of Parcel 10 that is depicted on Fayette County Tax Map 87 as updated in March 2006.
The re-zoning request was presented last month to the Oakland Municipal Planning Commission, which recommended that the board reclassify the property accordingly.
In May, Nick Jebbia, president of SWAN Development Group LLC, sent a letter to the town regarding The Villas at Fair Oaks Planned Development. He recalled that, in December 2007, his company’s application for the PD was approved, which allowed the construction of 144 units of attached residential single-family housing.
Jebbia noted that all streets, utilities and the clubhouse have subsequently been constructed and approved. He also said the streetscapes, pedestrian system, common open spaces, cohesive architecture, Owners’ Activity Center that includes a swimming pool, as well as the views created by proximity to the golf course, have contributed to the “overall neighborhood concept” that was originally envisioned.
He also recalled that his company amended the original PD in December 2009 to include the use of single-family home sites in Area 2, which is known as The Estates at Fair Oaks. To accomplish this, he said, 25 multi-family lots currently configured for 57 attached units were reconfigured to 33 single-family lots.
That amounts to a density reduction of 24 units in the PD, Jebbia said, with the total unit count dropping from the approved 144 to 120.
“As the market has changed from our original vision of having all attached units in Area 1,” he wrote, “it has now evolved into one that requires us to have a combination of attached as well as detached units. In order to accomplish that, we need to create Patio Home lots for single detached units to be constructed.”
Jebbia said that can be accomplished by subdividing some of the multi-family lots into single lots, while the number of units will remain at 120. He noted that the patio homes will have the same basic floor plans currently offered in The Villas product, and their outward appearance will also be “very similar” to it.
Developer Arnie Birmingham has said the patio homes will range in size from 1,700 to 2,300 square feet. Noting that the smallest of the current attached units is 1,600 square feet, he has said the middle-sized ones range from 1,900 to 2,000, and the largest is 2,100 to 2,300.
“We’re just detaching,” Birmingham has said, “because we think the attached is a stigma that I can’t overcome. It’s the same price, just detached as opposed to attached.”
He has also said the smallest unit will probably cost approximately $210,000.
At the board’s June 20 meeting, the ordinance was passed on first reading by a 3-1 vote, with Morris dissenting.
During a public hearing shortly before the vote at last week’s meeting, Oscar Ethridge of 515 Black Ankle Drive wondered how the reconfiguration will affect the Oakland Fire Department’s access to the lots.
“If I remember correctly,” he said, “there was an easement issue, like small sections between the houses. And they would have to drive on the golf course to get to the back of those houses.”
But Mayor Chris Goodman said that, at this point, there are no indications that the zoning change will be a “menace” to the public.
And while calling it a “challenge,” Fire Chief Rudy Doyle said his department “pre-planned” for it. He noted that the fire trucks do not necessarily need access to the back of the houses, because the hoses can be extended there.
“I know, eventually, there may be some fences involved,” he acknowledged. “We have a big chainsaw to take care of the fences, so we’ll deal with it.”