Pinecrest may limit ‘McMansions’

Pinecrest council members want to study possible new rules aimed at limiting property owners ability to build large homes on relatively small lots.

The council decided Tuesday not to immediately approve a set of such rules, instead opting to get more input from contractors and village residents. Several contractors spoke against the proposed changes, but Mayor Cindy Lerner said the council needs to act to preserve the village’s character.

“My family moved here in 1960, when our homes were small ranches on big lots,” Lerner said. “That’s the character of Pinecrest. We value green space. With these larger homes, we’ve lost a lot of green space and now we’re realizing the adverse impact of these buildings on the environment.”

Although the average size of homes constructed in the village in the past several months is 8,500 square feet, there are homes that have been constructed in recent years that are as large as 16,000 and 20,000 square feet, according to village Planning Director Stephen Olmsted.

Among the rule changes on Tuesday’s agenda was an increase in the “setback,” or minimum distance between a home and a side lot line from 25 to 30 feet for a single-story house. Olmstead said this would reduce the scale of buildings and address associated impacts like runoff of storm water onto neighboring properties.

The council also considered reducing the overall height of structures in single-family residential districts from 35 feet to 32 feet, and increasing front-yard setbacks from 50 feet to 55 feet for a one-story structure, or 60 feet for the second story of a structure.

Olmsted said the proposed amendments would align the code with the village’s Master Plan, which promotes environmental sustainability and conservation.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people in suits with greedy ideas,” said Karen Ross, council member Bob Ross’ wife. “McMansions are ruining the village’s character. There’s no need for more large homes — we’re not crying for the tax dollars.”

Also on Tuesday, the council postponed discussion of a possible restaurant at Pinecrest Gardens. When a Gardens neighbor wanted to discuss the proposal, Lerner gaveled down the resident and adjourned the meeting.

The mayor said the topic “needs a breather.”

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