A garage to one-bedroom apartment conversion at 201 West Clinton Street.

ITHACA, N.Y. — The City of Ithaca is seeking public comments on residential infill development, following several months of discussions about new regulations in City Hall. Common Council is expected to consider legislation to steer infill in R-1 and R-2 Zoning Districts later this year.

An open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 29 at the Tompkins County Public Library to educate the public about various types of infill development and to gather feedback.

“The Planning Department has spent several months evaluating the issues surrounding infill housing and have had several discussions with the Planning and Economic Development Committee of the Common Council. Given the varied opinions on this, the Common Council would like to obtain public input on this topic prior to developing a proposal for legislation,” a media release from the Planning Department states.

Related: Unfulfilling infill? City committee debates in-law units and accessory dwellings

Residential infill rules generally pertain to accessory dwelling units — for instance, garages, carriage houses or cottages that are used as housing. At a July PEDC meeting, committee members and residents voiced a wide range of preferences and concerns about when and where accessory dwelling units should be allowed and what rules they should be subject to.

Commenters from the Fall Creek and Northside neighborhoods lent support to policies that encourage infill, saying it would increase the city’s housing stock and give homeowners a way of boosting their income. Some South Hill residents, however, were more wary, citing examples of student housing they believe has diminished their neighborhood’s character.

Alderpersons serving on PEDC were likewise split on details including whether primary homes on lots with accessory dwelling units should be owner-occupied, whether short-term rentals like Airbnb stays should be regulated in accessory dwelling units, and whether the size of secondary units should be limited by overall square feet or number of bedrooms.

Given the lack of consensus about what the priorities of infill development should be, the open house will provide a forum to share information and gather ideas before planners draft specific legislation.

Those unable to attend on Aug. 29 can submit comments to Jennifer Kusznir at jenniferk@cityofithaca.org, or submit written comments to the City of Ithaca Planning Department at 108 E. Green Street, Ithaca, NY 14850.

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at dmagliozzi@ithacavoice.com or 607-391-0328.