New slope rules could apply to schools, churches

An effort to place limits on the subdivision of hilly parcels could soon extend to the city’s school campuses and church grounds.

Belmont officials are racing to approve new subdivision limits that would use a parcel’s slope to guide the number of homes that can be built on that parcel — limits now applied only in the San Juan Canyon and Western Hills areas. The Planning Commission on Tuesday asked for a more relaxed ratio that would allow for subdivision on smaller lots, particularly on slopes of less than 15 percent, but recommended the rules apply to institutional properties if and when they are sold to residential developers.

Councilmember Coralin Feierbach introduced the proposal to the City Council on July 25, fearing that if it isn’t adopted before the Nov. 7 election, Proposition 90 will remove officials’ local control over future subdivision densities. It returns to the City Council on Sept. 12 for potential adoption.

Applying the ratios to institutional sites, such as churches, could prevent them from becoming impossible to redevelop, according to Commissioner Jacki Horton.

“Some of these may not be viable institutional uses in 15 years … If a church decided it didn’t want to exist in that location anymore, I would want to see them be able to sell the property,” she said.

If approved, the extension could apply to up to a dozen campuses and churches, including the 45-acre Notre Dame de Namur property, according to Community Development Director Carlos De Melo.

Commissioners balked at De Melo’s recommendation that, on a 10 percent slope, developers could create new lots no smaller than 15,146 square feet. Instead, they recommended a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet on slopes up to 15 percent.

Resident Anthony McTasik, who is currently subdividing his property, said the changes would undermine his plans.

“We have abided by the rules, and in midstream this would effectively annihilate my project,” he said.

Under De Melo’s recommendation, approximately 20 lots met all the requirements for subdivision, including slope, total square footage and street frontage. He has not determined how many would be eligible under the new

recommendation.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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