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Triangle District building rules review continues

By Grace Lovins

The Birmingham Planning Board held a third study session on Wednesday, October 11, to continue their review of the current requirements for mixed-use buildings in the city’s Triangle District.

According to planning director Nick Dupuis, the increasing number of applications for the Triangle District raised concern over the current standards for allowing additional stories if the building meets certain criteria. The board and city staff have also looked into the proportions of mixed-use buildings.

During the board’s first and second study sessions, city staff gave the board a revised ordinance to look over that added a percentage requirement for commercial uses and the LEED certification incentive that can allow buildings additional stories.

Dupuis said that from his findings, the LEED certification has essentially become the industry standard. He also stated that there are multiple levels of the LEED certification – LEED certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold and LEED Platinum. Dupuis suggested requiring developers to get one of the higher level certifications to qualify for additional stories.

The planning board discussed removing the additional stories for LEED certification from the building requirements since they don’t have a feasible way to enforce it. Multiple members said the certification is given to the buildings after they are built, and if a developer doesn’t follow through with the LEED certification, the city doesn’t have a way to penalize them.

Chairperson Scott Clein later on said that he’s also in favor of removing the additional stories for LEED certified buildings, noting that builders who follow the Michigan Building Code and other modern building codes will likely all be LEED certified.

Board members also visited the idea of a percentage requirement for the frontage of mixed-use buildings. There was a consensus that the board was hoping to have a use that activates the frontage, but had different ideas of how to do so.

Eventually, board members concurred that they want a use that activates the area, is accessible to the public and follows one of the listed retail and commercial uses provided to the board from city staff, but they weren't exactly sure what the percentage requirement should be.

Clein offered that the roads causing the concern over activated, accessible first floor usage were Haynes Street, Adams Road, Woodward Avenue and Bowers Street. He asked Dupuis to add language to the ordinance that would put a percentage use requirement on the first floor of those specific streets, which the rest of the board agreed with.

“It has to be interactive, not transactional, and it has to be one of the commercial uses listed here,” Clein said.

Residential use would not be allowed on the first floor of those specific streets, Clein said.

Board members asked Dupuis to look into adding a percentage requirement for Bowers, Adams, Haynes and Woodward streets. Dupuis also said he would be doing more research into the LEED certification to bring back to the board for one last lookover. Board member Bert Koseck was absent from the meeting, and Naseem Ramin took his place.


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