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Floor Area Ratio

Adding Greater Feasibility for Context-Sensitive Infill & Redevelopment

Infill and redevelopment has been and will continue to be the foremost development strategy for Lexington. In order for this type of development to provide the much needed relief valve for our city's Urban Service Area, our regulations must reflect the best practices and standards that allow greater feasibility for context-sensitive infill and redevelopment.

This Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment (ZOTA), passed by the Urban County Council, specifically aims its attention on the concept of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and how increases in the standard FAR values allowed within our Zoning Ordinance can directly and positively affect housing stock - particularly in number of units, diversity of options, and affordability of available units.

What is Floor Area Ratio?

Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is the relationship between the square footage of the building and the square footage of the lot. FAR regulations tell you “how much” building you can create on a lot. As seen in Figure 1, an FAR of 0.25 would allow a total building square footage up to 25% of the size of the lot.

 

Figure 1 - Illustration of different FAR values
 
Lot Coverage is the relationship between the ground floor area of the building and the area of the lot. Development scenarios with the same FAR but different lot coverage will produce varying types of development: for example, low-rise or high-rise, as seen in Figure 2.
 
Figure 2 - Illustration of different FAR and Lot Coverage values
 
 

What changed?

The approved changes will permit a 3-story building in R-3, a 4-story building in R-4, and a 5-story building in R-5 in most situations and will create a greater differentiation between the zones. The changes will also allow more room to work within an existing zone.

Zone  

Previous

Current

R-3 (Planned Neighborhood Residential)
 
 
FAR
0.5
0.75
LOT COVERAGE
25%
25%
HEIGHT
35'
40'
 
 
 
R-4 (High Density Apartment)
 
 
FAR
0.7
1.6
LOT COVERAGE
30%
40%
 
 
 
R-5 (High Rise Apartment)
 
 
FAR
1.3
2.25
LOT COVERAGE
35%
45%

Why change it?

The previous ordinance was created just prior to city/county merger in the early 1970’s and there had been no changes to the allowable Floor Area Ratio (FAR) since. Land availability and resulting costs have changed dramatically since that time. Over the last decade, R-3 and R-4 have become increasingly unable to accommodate even low density development, and as the average available parcel size decreased, the difficulties with R-3 and R-4 became even more exaggerated. The previous ordinance was drafted to facilitate development of larger parcels, but, with existing conditions, very few developments are large enough to make R-3 and R-4 work under those specifications, in many cases making even the most compatible 3 and 4 story developments impossible. Under the previous regulations, R-3 was virtually unusable for parcels of 3-5 acres, where the small multi-family housing or “missing middle housing” is often desired.

These changes will permit a 3-story building in R-3, a 4-story building in R-4, and a 5-story building in R-5 in most situations, and will create a greater differentiation between the zones, and allow more room to work within an existing zone. This will negate the need for zone changes for small amounts of needed FAR that do not alter the fundamental character of the development.

Notable Dates

  • Jan. 23, 2020 - Planning Commission Work Session
  • Feb. 20, 2020 - Planning Commission Work Session
  • June 4, 2020 - Planning Commission Committees
  • June 25, 2020 - Planning Commission Public Hearing with Recommended Approval (video)
  • Aug. 11, 2020 - Urban County Council Work Session
  • Aug. 13, 2020 - Urban County Council 1st Reading (video)
  • Aug. 18, 2020 - Urban County Council Work Session (video)
  • Aug. 25, 2020 - Urban County Council Work Session (video)
  • Aug. 27, 2020 - 2nd Reading Postponed by Urban County Council (video)
  • Sept. 24, 2020 - Urban County Council 2nd Reading with Approval (video)