Sea Isle City to Revise Ordinance on Bump Outs

During City Council’s meeting this past Tuesday, December 13th, a presentation by one of the council members got other council members thinking.   A proposed ordinance was to be voted on that day, but it was demonstrated that it was flawed and needed to be rewritten.  Bump-outs are a decorative architectural feature in home construction.  They are also a way to expand a home while legally “encroaching” into the setback.  In Sea Isle, they can be as wide as 8 feet and can jut out as far as 18 or 24 inches from the house, depending on the size of the lot.   Not only do they enhance the exterior of a home but make a significant difference inside by creating a feeling of a much wider space.

Zoning laws in Sea Isle currently allow bump-outs only in side yards.  That is fine for inside lots.     It is the corner lots that suffer under the proposed ordinance.    The way corner lots are configured facing the street, they have only one side yard.     Currently, that side of the house, which is the  most visible,  can’t have bump-outs.   It is one long flat wall and has zero appeal.     Below is a good example of a 56th and Pleasure home with bump outs on its street side wall.

56th-st-sample

Some water front properties would also benefit by allowing bump outs in all side yards.  After all, isn’t architectural beauty something we should want to have in our community?  Big boxy homes have been built on the island and they are “not” a sight for sore eyes.  We don’t need any more of those.   I hope all architects and builders take advantage of bump outs as much as possible.

All this arose out of the “much ado about nothing” complaints from a minority of taxpayers many moons ago about Monster Houses which obviously still isn’t completely resolved.   Maybe after this hopefully last fallout is corrected, we will finally be at a good place again and be done with it.

Sea Isle City Monster Houses & The Monstrosity of Confusion They Created

The subject of Monster Houses in Sea Isle City just won’t go away.    The huge amount of time and effort by everyone involved with this issue was nothing but a dumpster fire.    The changes made won’t make any difference in Sea Isle City’s landscape.  Buildings will be just as high as before but a little bit smaller in floor area, which aspect I doubt the human eye will even notice.  But a small minority of residents are happy now as they thought they won but really, they only succeeded in causing unnecessary havoc in the city they claim to love and care for so much.

Now at issue in the building Ordinance is its vagueness in the definition of “Floor Area.”  See below as copied and pasted from Sea Isle Ordinance 1591.    In its content, the words “horizontal areas” and what that includes is the problem.    Apparently it needs to be defined more clearly because some people can’t see that a “horizontal area” does not include stairwells and elevator shafts.  I don’t know, call me crazy but the word “vertical” comes to my mind when I think of these two things.  Or, “open space” more accurately describes them than does “horizontal.”     I would think a”horizontal area” ends when it meets the stairwell and the elevator shaft and becomes becomes something else.   I can’t walk across a stairwell or an elevator shaft, this I am sure, without needing someone to call 911 from my injuries of “falling through” the “horizontal area.”    Elevator shafts and interior stairwells should be included with the other items below the Definitions that count as “0%.”    It is a no brainer to me but City Official(s) don’t see it this way.    I hope they come to their senses soon and correct this problem.

26-11 Definitions.

Floor area shall mean the sum of the gross horizontal areas of the several floors of the building, or buildings, measured from the exterior faces of exterior walls, or from the center line of party walls separating two (2) buildings. The calculation of the “floor area” of the building shall be based on the following standards: Enclosed floor area on the first floor or above 100%
Glass enclosed and covered porches 100%
Screened or otherwise enclosed covered porches or breezeways 50%
Enclosed attached or detached garage or open carports 0%
Basement space 0%
On-grade patios, terraces and uncovered or covered steps 0%
Open balconies, open attached covered or uncovered decks including roof decks, open covered porches, open breezeways 0%
Projections in compliance with 26-27.6 Encroachments 0%