Small but affordable housing plan OK’d

The Gazette May 25, 1995
By Lonnie Zingula

Small but affordable housing plan OK’d

Zoning amendment allows reduction in minimum floor area

A plan to allow construction of sub-standard size homes on Cedar Rapids lots previously too small for residential development has received initial approval from the City Council.

An amendment to the city’s Zoning Ordinance to reduce the minimum dimensions and floor areas required of homes was approved unanimously by the council Wednesday on its first reading.

The amendment originated with plans by Scott Olson to build extra-narrow homes on extra-small lots to be sold at extra-low prices.

Olson, an architect and real estate consultant who volunteers as chair­ man of the city’s Affordable Housing Commission, had prototypes designed of one-, two- and three-bed­ room homes he sees as a partial answer to Cedar Rapids’ affordable housing woes.

The proposed homes are 16 feet wide and the one-bedroom model is 480 square feet. With approval from the Board of Adjustment, the homes will be put on narrow lots in the city that would otherwise have gone un­ developed.

Side-yard setback requirements prevent standard-width homes from being built on lots that are 30 to 35 feet wide.

The homes would sell for $40,000 to $60,000. Buyers would be qualified by the Metro Area Housing Program (MAHP), which would also contribute financial assistance.

Other zoning matters approved on their initial readings by the council included:
• An ordinance amendment allowing parking facilities as a permitted use in commercial warehouse districts. The amendment stems from plans by 2001 Development Corp. to convert the King’s Material concrete plant site at 650 12th Ave. SW into a parking lot.
• An ordinance amendment establishing a new restricted office park district to serve as a buffer between commercial facilities and neighborhoods composed of single family homes.
• An ordinance changing the zoning of property at 828 First Street SW to allow IES Utilities to build a $10 million co-generation power plant to supply steam to nearby Penford Products and additional base-load electricity for IES.

Each of the ordinances must be approved on three readings before taking effect.

The council will not be taking action on an application by Perpetual Savings and Loan and Richardson Real Estate to change the zoning of property at 1601 and 1605 B Ave. NE for construction of an eight-unit apartment building. The application has been withdrawn after facing heavy opposition from Mound View neighborhood residents.