On Wednesday, July 21, the Hamilton County Commission will consider a major move that will have significance for county homeowners –both of current properties and those yet to be developed.
The decision is whether or not to change R-1 residential zoning requirements from the current five homes per acre to seven homes per acre to accommodate current and projected demand in housing within Hamilton County. The zoning change also includes decreasing the setback standard from the current 15 feet to a new one of five feet. This new zoning will affect undeveloped land within Hamilton County as well as currently developed properties that can be cleared and rebuilt in the future.
Few things influence the character and attractiveness of residential areas more than zoning and building codes, as well as our area’s relatively low costs for housing and homeowner’s insurance. Yet a zoning code allowing for higher density building and smaller setbacks, while potentially contributing more in county property taxes, can also contribute to increased home insurance costs for all residents of our area.
The density increase and setback decrease creates increased danger and costs from natural disasters, with steep slopes and the potential of flooding and high winds carrying flames door-to-door, along with the limited resources of our volunteer fire departments contributing to increased risk to homeowners. While recent weather has been pretty average in terms of rainfall, dry conditions can seriously increase the danger of wildfires that can spread more rapidly in higher density developments.
Additionally, if there is a loss of a single structure in a current five house R-1 zone, it could now be replaced to maximize the new seven-homes per acre standard, changing the fundamental character of the community.
These residential zoning changes are not being driven by the community, as they should. Like so many other things negatively affecting our area, these changes are being pushed by outside money and influence. This is all about the commission, in concert with a couple of major home developers, seeking to maximize tax receipts from residential properties. Contact your county commissioners and let them know you don’t want to change the character of our county for more tax dollars.