The Auburn Planning Commission unanimously recommended making academic detached dwelling units conditional in parcels zoned Redevelopment District east of Donahue Drive at its meeting last week, although it didn't prohibit ADDUs outright on parcels abutting the North College Historic District, a move sought by Auburn City Councilman Kelley Griswold.
Griswold, who lives in the historic district, proposed an amendment that would prohibit ADDUs on parcels within or abutting the historic district, which the council officially remanded to the commission for its consideration.
During the public hearing, multiple historic district residents voiced support for Griswold's amendment, although most indicated they would be fine if ADDUs were made conditional on abutting properties.
Sarah Jenkins, who lives in the historic district and whose husband, Steve, who also spoke and serves on the Historic Preservation Commission, noted the importance of the district to Auburn's history.
"We see the historic district as a display of Auburn’s architectural history and as one of the gateways to the city of Auburn," she said. "I know there are many, but we feel like that little pathway right there is a gateway that shows the history of Auburn.
"I feel personally if ADDUs are permitted in the district or on properties abutting it, I feel it would be difficult to communicate with people living in them, probably students, the guidelines and requirements of the historic district."
Developers who spoke during the public hearing took issue with the city making a move to impose restrictions in the historic district on property owners in adjacent zoning districts.
"As someone who does build and has done this product in the past, I don’t have a problem with it prohibited in the historic district," said developer Ryan Casadaban. "As they were all speaking earlier, (they said) like ‘we chose this, and we chose that, we chose to do this and that.’ They did choose to do that, but I don’t think they should be able to choose for other people what they can and can’t do outside of that district. That was something they went into knowing what the restrictions were upon them, and to place it on others who are in adjacent districts goes beyond the means of reasonability to me."
The conversation also turned to zoning, with Nick Hayes, a developer who said he's part of an ownership group for the house at 145 Drake Ave., saying that those who spoke in favor of the amendment live on properties zoned Neighborhood Conservation, a designation that already prohibits ADDUs.
Ultimately, the commission landed on relying on the zoning designation to regulate ADDUs on abutting property.
"The request to make ADDUs prohibited in the historic district may seem appropriate, but all property in the historic district holds a city zoning classification as well as a historic district overlay," said commissioner Nonet Reese. "My belief that as planning commissioners it’s our purview that we only consider city zoning regulations. The request to make ADDUs prohibited on any property abutting the historic district seems like spot zoning and a non-enforceable option for our city."
The City Council will consider the commission's recommendation and the amendment at its meeting on Aug. 20.