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Four-person rule sent to planning commission for edits

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February 12, 2010

6:07 PM

The Williamsburg City Council voted unanimously to send the new four-person rule to the Williamsburg Planning Commission for two minor edits Thursday.

In December, the council voted to increase the occupancy limit of homes within the city’s rental inspection districts from three unrelated tenants to four. Those petitioning to allow a property to house four unrelated people must obtain permission from the city of Williamsburg, pending several inspections.
City Manager Jack Tuttle brought the issues with the new ordinance to the attention of the council.

The ordinance states that in order for a property to be considered for four-person occupancy, the owner must submit a site plan. Property owners must consult licensed engineers or architects and pay up to $500 to obtain site plans. Tuttle suggested the language be changed to “plot plan,” so that property owners would neither have to consult outside professionals nor pay a large sum of money.

“It would simply save an unnecessary expense, if that were changed from a site plan to a plot plan,” Tuttle said.

The city would check to ensure the plot plans’s accuracy since no architect or engineer’s seal would be required for the document to be valid.

The ordinance also requires properties being considered for four-person occupancy to undergo an electrical inspection to ensure the home can accommodate an extra renter. Tuttle said that since three related people can already live in dwellings without the electrical inspection, this part of the ordinance would not benefit the renters or owners and was just another expense.

“I feel there is enough protection there,” Tuttle said. “And there is no requirement no matter how many related people you have in a house to have a separate electrical inspection.”
Tuttle said that the site plan and the electrical inspection combined could cost up to $700.

“It does appear to be unnecessary bureaucracy without changing anything much if we already have inspections and can determine if there are enough parking spaces without site plans,” Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler M.A. ’76 said.

Because the ordinance deals with zoning issues, it will be sent back to the planning commission for review before the city council can vote on the changes.

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