After more than two years of work by the village's Plan Commission and input from village trustees, appointed officials and residents, Riverside has a new residential zoning ordinance. Trustees on Nov. 21 voted unanimously to adopt the new zoning code, which overhauls the 1922 code that had been haphazardly updated throughout the years.
"Although work on this officially began in April of 2003, the direction to start this process goes back as far as 2000," said Village President Harold J. Wiaduck Jr. "This is really the fruition of a very long process. Many, many people came forward and entered into the discussions on this.
"No document is 100-percent perfect, but this is a living document," he added. "We may need to make some modifications as we go along."
The new document addresses all aspects of Riverside residential zoning issues, from establishing the purpose and intent of residential districts to setting specific requirements for bulk, height and setback restrictions for new construction.
With a surge in the number of applications for demolishing homes and building new residences all over Riverside, the village found itself with a zoning code nearly impossible to apply uniformly or, in some cases, even decipher.
With the new code Riverside, which was named a National Historic Landmark in 1970 for its Frederick Law Olmsted-designed landscape plan, will be able to establish some manner of control on new development.
"In many ways, it brings Riverside a code that we can actually read," said Village Manager Kathleen Rush. "Unless you had worked with it for a period of time, it was really difficult to read. If you we're looking at a site plan or an addition, you'd have to go to five, six or seven different sections. If you didn't know to look for those, it was problematic."
One of the most important aspects of the new code, Rush said is its specific guidelines on building height. The code, comes complete with drawings showing how exactly how height is to be measured in each one of the village's residential districts.
"It finally clarifies how to measure height," she said. "That had put us in a difficult position previously."
One thing that the new ordinance does not set up is a design review committee. Considered by many involved in the process to be an important part of the new code, a provision for a design review committee had been included in the final draft of the code.
However, during its review of that draft, members of the village's Board of Trustees cut the design review committee from the final product.
"The board didn't want to get into subjective arguments," Rush said. "They felt the most appropriate way to approach it was through an acceptable list of (building) materials."
For example, the code prohibits the following materials as the predominant surface finish on new residential buildings: standard concrete masonry units, jumbo brick, exposed aggregate concrete wall panels, plywood or masonite sidings, plastic, mirrored glass, metal wall panels, exterior insulation finish systems such as Dryvit on the ground floor of any building, stucco boards, fiber-cement panel sheeting and aluminum or metal siding.
In addition to setting standards for lot coverage, height and setbacks, the ordinance also weighs in on everything from the placement and size of satellite dishes to driveway widths, hedge placement, prohibited building materials and garage construction.
Some of the highlights include:
n Garage doors are limited to 18 feet in width, except for garage doors that face the street. Those doors can't exceed nine feet in width.
n Front-loading garages can't occupy more than 50 percent of the width of the front facade of the house. And front-loading garages can't protrude more than 5 feet beyond the facade.
n New detached garages must be consistent with the architecture of the newly constructed residence?"using the same siding, roofing, roof pitch, trim and colors.
n Permitted fence materials include: treated wood, cedar or redwood; simulated wood; decorative stone or brick; wrought iron or aluminum designed to simulate wrought iron; and chain link that is coated in brown, black or green.
n Driveways leading to an attached garage can be no more than 10 feet wide, except for a turnaround area adjoining the garage at the rear of the property. A driveway apron extending the width of the garage is permitted to extend 20 feet back from the garage doors before tapering to the required driveway width to allow for additional parking space.
n Only one curb cut will be permitted for new homes. Existing lots with more than one curb cut are grandfathered into the code and may be repaired or replaced as long as they are not enlarged.
n Permitted driveway materials include: asphalt, concrete, brick or decorative stamped pavers, permeable pavers and grasscrete. Pea gravel is allowed only for homes designated as historic landmarks. Dirt driveways are prohibited. Gravel drives are grandfathered in as long as they are maintained.
n House-mounted satellite dishes cannot exceed 24 inches in diameter as long as it is, if possible, not visible from the street.
n Solar panels are allowed, but cannot be visible from the street.
n The ordinance codifies a requirement of two trees within the parkway for each residential lot. While that had always been part of Olmsted's plan for the village, Rush said the requirement was never set forth in the residential zoning code.
n Hedges are prohibited in the street yard, although ones already in place may remain, as long as they are maintained. If more than 20 percent of an existing hedge is destroyed, it must be removed from the street yard.
One other significant change to the zoning code allows vertical additions to legal, non-conforming residences as long as those additions don't make the structure more non-conforming. In the new version of the code, such an addition will be allowed without a zoning variation.