A decision by Delaware City Council may make it easier for some residents to refinance their homes.
Council unanimously amended a chapter of the city’s planning and zoning code regarding nonconforming use of buildings, structures and land. The amendments affect all single-family homes that are currently zoned for multi-family or non-residential use in the city.
Gloria Wright, a Lewis Street resident, brought the matter to the city’s attention recently.
According to the city staff report to council, those nonconforming variations are because “the houses were constructed before the current zoning code was adopted, past city-sponsored rezoning of perceived commercial corridors, etc.”
Under the past code, if a nonconforming single-family home were to be destroyed by more than 50 percent, it couldn’t be rebuilt as a single-family home in that area.
“When I went to refinance my house, because of the zoning issue that you couldn’t replace the house if it was destroyed by fire or natural means, they couldn’t lend,” Wright told The Gazette. “I thought it was just the lender I was using. I checked with several other lenders, and that was true in all cases.”
“Staff is requesting to revise the zoning code from the reconstruction provision only single-family homes,” said the city staff report.
“This is a lot of words to achieve a small change in our code that we think is going to help a lot of homeowners in the city,” city planning director David Efland told council on Monday. “It made good sense for us to look at this and say for single-family homes, if they are burned down or damaged by an act of God, by whatever percentage, that they could be rebuilt to the same extent that they existed immediately prior.”
The provision is only good for natural disasters.
“Now if you demolish your own home as a willful act, this does not apply,” Efland said.
Wright said she was told she could secure a loan if she got a letter stating that the city will let them rebuild.
Earlier this month, the city’s planning commission unanimously approved amending the code. One member said he was proud to vote on something that would help local citizens.
“I commend the planning department for being so quick in not only helping me, but everybody else who has that issue,” Wright said.
In other business, council approved ordinances to establish funding for “the engraving and installing of bricks for the Veterans Memorial Plaza” and “various citywide related events.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.