Interest in townhomes leads to zoning changes in Opelika

OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - Townhomes are a great housing option for people that want the indoor space, without the hassle of trying to maintain a large yard. In Opelika, city officials are working to make sure that townhomes are an option for residents.

"Not everyone wants to live in a large house on a traditional neighborhood lot," says Opelika Planning Director, Matt Mosley. "These units are often attractive to active adults who want to downsize, young professionals or young families that may not need a great deal of space. As property values and housing prices continue to rise, townhouses are an affordable path to homeownership, and the City of Opelika strives to encourage home ownership because of all of the positive benefits it produces,"

After a period of almost 10 years without any new townhome developments, Opelika residents and developers started pushing for more of the housing type in the area. Since the spring of 2017, zoning approval has been gr anted for over 200 new townhome units.

"We had seen some interest, a lot of interest, in townhomes but people were kind of hesitant to actually start developing them. We looked at our regulations and found that there were areas where the zoning ordinance might contradict with the building code or the fire code and so we looked to ways that we could clarify that and remove the sections that really contradicted. I think what we've done is basically make our zoning ordinance for townhouses, make the regulations much more flexible to allow better design and more creativity for developers" says Mosley.

The city also changed the lot size minimum.

"We looked at the minimum lot size for each individual townhome lot. Our minimum lot size of 2,200 square feet was larger than many comparable communities required and what many buyers in the market wanted. We wound up reducing the minimum lot size for the individual unit to 1800 square feet. We did not change the overall density for a project, so this again allows more flexibility in design but not any more units overall," says Mosley.

Officials say the new regulations will spur growth in this housing type and offer additional options to the citizens of Opelika and those moving into the area.

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