15-0316 v2.X Parking Lot Sizing

Question:

Our project is in transect L1, and includes the construction of an environmental education center dedicated to helping guests understand and embrace their relationship with the land and sustainability. The current site draws 40,000 visitors a year, about half of which attend nature-based programs and half experience Iowa’s natural heritage by hiking independently on the trails that wind through prairies, wetlands, and oak-hickory savannas. Attendance has been increasing in recent years as the surrounding area becomes urbanized. We expect attendance to continue to increase, and have been working to minimize the amount of cars coming to the site.Strategies for reducing traffic include: tying in with an existing lime-chipped bike path that leads to both Cedar Rapids and Marion, the two largest and closest urban areas. working with two neighboring businesses to allow parking in their lots during large gatherings, and then shuttling people from their lots to the site (both businesses are already allowing this and are supportive of continuing it) using several existing trail-head parking lots that are about 1⁄2 mile from the site, which accommodate 68 vehicles. During high attendance programs, guests would be shuttled to the site from the lots. Asking groups that register for programs to carpoolLinn County Planning and Zoning, which is the Jurisdictional Authority, is very concerned that on a regular basis, staff, trail hikers and program attendees will exceed the amount of parking allowed by L1. Based on our existing use patterns, the occupancy of the new building, and the number of vehicles that currently park unsafely on the road, Linn County is requiring us to create 64 new parking spaces closer to the building. Initially, the existing County ordinance required us to construct more than 1,500 parking spaces. After meeting with them to discuss the project, our intent, and our strategies for reducing vehicles, the County developed a new classification for us requiring 64 new parking spaces.Many of our seasonal programs that bring guests in direct contact with their natural heritage, such as traditional maple syruping, are popular and draw a large attendance. We believe that the 64 parking spaces the county is requiring is a realistic reflection of daily parking needs. All of the proposed parking spaces, except for those required by the County as necessary for parking two buses and five handicapped spaces, would be constructed with permeable pavers, to allow the water to be maintained on-site and percolate back into the ground. Rainwater from the required hard-surfaced spaces would be captured in bioswales and also maintained on site. To maintain the human scale of the project and maximize the ecological integrity of the site, the project parking lot would be created on adjacent property, through scale jumping. Though only a short walk, once in the building the guests will not be able to see the parking lot, and through native tallgrass prairie plantings around the parking lot, it will also be obscured from trail walkers and program attendees. Would a conditional exemption be made to the maximum allowable surface parking area for this project?

Answer:

This strategy is acceptable for both v2.1 and v3.0 projects if they meet the requirements of Exception I15-E1, under L LBC 3.0 per the v3.0 Equity Petal Handbook (EqPH p. 9 -10). v3.0 I15-E1 Human Scale and Code Requirements.

The maximum parking dimensions listed in this Imperative may be exceeded when they are mandated by code and the
team is unable to get a variance. The team must propose an alternative design to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and, if that alternative is rejected, advocate to the AHJ or other mandating authority to request a change in the requirement.Teams that use this Exception may only install impervious surface parking up to the maximum area prescribed by this Imperative for the project’s Transect. The remaining parking area required by code must be pervious (e.g. grasscrete, gravel, or other surfaces that serve the dual purpose of stormwater management and parking) and include infrastructure (e.g. bike racks, preferential car pool parking) and signage encouraging the use of alternative transportation.Additionally, any and all surface parking incorporated into the project remains subject to the maximum dimensions stipulated in this Imperative before a separation is required on all four sides.


Post ID 2748

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