A moratorium on large housing applications has ended in Oakwood, but in moving forward, major changes have been made to the city’s development code.
The city no longer will accept applications for planned residential developments, or PRDS, a popular zoning type that typically allows developers more flexibility in layout, size and types of homes on a single tract.
Problems have cropped up because of one of the zoning category’s other key characteristics — developers being bound to the project concept.
“Most of the projects weren’t built as the council had envisioned them, and many have had to come back to council for reapprovals or changes,” Oakwood City Manager B.R. White said.
Overall, “the binding concept plan has been problematic to the development community, and revisions have been troublesome for the council.”
An example of a recent tweaking of original PRD plans took place in October 2021.
The McEver Mill subdivision off McEver Road was approved for 105 townhomes in 2017, but only 19 lots had been developed as of 2021. Plans were revised to allow for two-story homes instead of one-story homes and a reduction in lot widths, allowing for seven more homes.
The zoning removal, approved Monday, June 13, by Oakwood City Council, doesn’t affect existing PRDs — and there are several in development across the fast-growing city.
Also, “an option to modify the existing PRD and have the council approve a new development concept plan” is allowed, White said.
The council also voted, as part of overall development code changes, to reduce densities for townhomes from 6 units per acre to four and for apartments from 10 units to 7.
At least one local developer, Johnny Free, objects to the changes.
“They have (put a) complete stranglehold on anything having to do with the housing market in Oakwood,” he said. If further housing development occurs, “it’ll be so constrained (developers) won’t be able to do it.”
He also cited concerns about distances developers must comply with, such as a house’s setback from property line, saying he believes the changes will discourage development.
The council imposed the moratorium in December so that city officials could “conduct and complete a review” of the City Code regarding larger housing development types.
“At one time, the codes might have been sufficient to address development in Oakwood,” White said at the time. “They may not be adequate to meet the current development levels and concerns of the citizens and City Council of Oakwood.”