Store Size Cap – Taos, NM

Date: 14 May 2009 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In September 1999, Taos enacted an ordinance restricting construction of large retail stores.  The city’s code prohibits stores that exceed 80,000 square feet and requires developers to obtain a special permit to build stores over 30,000 square feet.  To receive a permit, developments must meet the criteria outlined below and comply with the town’s architectural and design standards.  

Wal-Mart has tried to expand in Taos several times, but the store size cap has been repeatedly upheld by the City Council, with strong public support.  (See "Taos, New Mexico, Votes to Keep Store Size Limit" and "Taos, New Mexico, Battles Big Boxes… Again.")
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16.20.020.1: GENERAL PROVISIONS:

A. Purpose And Intent: The purpose of this section is:

1. To break up the apparent mass and scale of "large scale" commercial, industrial and multi-family structures and development in order to ensure that such structures and development are compatible with Taos’ historic character, scale and sense of place;

2. To ensure that large scale commercial, industrial and residential developments are harmoniously integrated with their surroundings;

3. To promote and facilitate a safe and comfortable pedestrian scale environment; and

4. To encourage a mixture of uses and sizes of structures.

B. Large Scale Development; Provisional Permit Required: Any commercial, industrial or multi-family development in which any individual buildings exceed thirty thousand (30,000) GFA (or 10,000 GFA in C-1 zone) shall be considered "large scale" for purposes of this section 16.20.020. Such large scale commercial, industrial or multi-family development shall proceed only in the event of discretionary approval of a provisional permit, pursuant to sections 16.20.020.2 and 16.20.030 of this chapter.

C. Gross Floor Area Limitations: Individual buildings in a large scale development shall each be restricted to the maximum gross floor area (GFA) provided in this section.

Gross floor area (GFA), in square feet:

Zone             Permissible SF       Maximum SF

C-1               10,000           30,000  
C-2               30,000           80,000  
CPD               30,000           80,000  
CBD               30,000           80,000  
M-1               30,000           80,000  
R-6 and R-14        30,000           50,000  
All other zones    10,000           Not allowed  

There is no limit on the number of buildings nor upon the cumulative GFA located on a single lot or tract provided that each building individually complies with this section and all other requirements of this title2.

Individual buildings shall not be linked by exclusive use passageways that have the effect of combining the structures into a single operating facility. Buildings which are separated by a minimum of twenty feet (20′), but connected solely by exterior pedestrian walkways that are open sided and designed and used solely as publicly accessible pedestrian passageways, are to be considered separate buildings for purposes of this section. Such pedestrian passageways shall not be used for commercial purposes and shall be excluded from the calculation of GFA under this section.

D. Exemptions: The following special uses are exempt from the gross floor area limitations of this section, however these facilities, if larger than thirty thousand (30,000) square feet GFA are not exempt from the review requirements for provisional permits as set forth in section 16.20.020.2 of this chapter:

1. Hospitals;

2. Public buildings owned by a governmental entity, including those of the town, which are operated for educational, governmental or other public purposes, including the necessary facilities and equipment to ensure proper operation thereof.

(Ord. 02-11, 2002: Ord. 99-05, 1999)

16.20.020.2: PROVISIONAL PERMIT:

Development of a large scale industrial, commercial or multi-family project in which the GFA of any building exceeds thirty thousand (30,000) square feet (or 10,000 GFA in C-1 zone) is contingent upon discretionary approval of a provisional permit.

The GFA for an individual building may, upon discretionary approval of a provisional permit, be increased beyond the "individual building permissible square footage" limitation up to the maximum individual building size shown for a provisional permit in the above table. The maximum GFA allowed by a provisional permit shall not be increased.

Applications for provisional permits shall follow the application procedure outlined in section 16.12.040.5 of this title.

The criteria outlined below shall be used for evaluation of any such application for provisional permit:

A. The development is compatible with the uses in the general vicinity and the development is harmoniously integrated with its surroundings;

B. The existing and proposed on site and off site infrastructure (including, but not limited to, water, sewer, drainage, traffic controls, circulation and other public services and utilities) will support the size of the building and development;

C. The health, safety, and welfare of the town of Taos are maintained;

D. The architecture and site design of the development meets the architectural design and site planning standards of section 16.20.030 of this chapter and the purpose and intent of this section;

E. When multiple structures are planned, the structures shall be staggered and/or offset and spacing between the structures should be consistent with the purposes and intent of this section.

Where any building exceeds a GFA of thirty thousand (30,000) square feet the minimum spacing between such building and any other building on the site shall be twenty feet (20′). This spacing requirement shall be enforced regardless of building configuration or arrangement. The intent of this minimum spacing requirement is that the outdoor spaces created between the buildings should have pleasant proportions which achieve a human scale. Arranging multiple structures around courtyards is encouraged; and

F. Compliance with all other requirements of this title.

(Ord. 02-11, 2002: Ord. 99-05, 1999)

16.20.030.1: STANDARDS FOR COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL STRUCTURES AND FOR "LARGE SCALE" DEVELOPMENT:

A. Standards Mandatory: The architectural design and site planning standards established by this section 16.20.030 shall be mandatory for:

1. All new construction of commercial and industrial structures requiring a provisional permit under section 16.20.020 of this chapter; and

2. New construction of structures, regardless of size, within the C-1, C-2 or HCPD zone; and

3. New "large scale" construction or development within any zoning district. For purposes of this section "large scale construction or development" is new construction of any building or buildings, including residential or special use buildings, which are located on a single parcel and which building(s), individually or cumulatively, exceed(s) thirty thousand (30,000) square feet of gross floor area.

These architectural design and site planning standards shall be advisory guidelines for all other new construction.

B. Definition: As used in this section, the term "new construction" includes the design or construction of new buildings or additions to existing structures.

C. Recognized Treatments: The architectural style of new construction shall be the "Taos style", except in cases of renovation or additions which are subject to subsection D of this section. In the "Taos style", two (2) alternative treatments are recognized and are based on the two (2) styles which are predominant in historic Taos. These two (2) styles are the Pueblo/Spanish revival and the pitched roof appearance of territorial revival. "Taos style" achieves harmony with the historic district by retention of a similarity of materials, color, proportion and general detail. Traditionally, the Pueblo/Spanish revival has been used for commercial buildings.

D. Determination Of Appropriate Style: In determining the appropriate style for new construction which involves renovation or addition to an existing structure, the new construction shall be in harmony with the predominant type and style of architecture of the existing structure or of the immediate surrounding neighborhood. Other styles of architecture exist in the Taos area in addition to the two (2) predominant styles described above. When additions to or modifications of these styles are contemplated in connection with renovation or addition, every effort shall be made to maintain the integrity of the existing building’s style. Photographic documentation may be submitted to verify the use of specific materials and detailing for a specific renovation project.

E. Massing Limitation: Where the structure(s) is to exceed thirty thousand (30,000) gross square feet, it shall be designed in such a way that the massing appears to the viewer as two (2) or more "building blocks" expressed, none of which shall exceed thirty thousand (30,000) gross square feet.

F. Facades: Facades of buildings shall be visually broken up with mature landscaping, recesses, portales, courtyards or other design features which humanize the scale of the structure(s).

G. Design Elements Of Pueblo/Spanish Revival Style:

1. Massing/Scale:

a. Buildings elements shall express a massive structural quality in appearance, however, the mass of the overall structure shall meet the "massing" limitations and facade design criteria set forth in subsections E and F of this section;

b. Buildings shall be designed to be "wall dominated" so that building geometry is defined by walls. Roofs are visually less dominant in the overall design;

c. Multilevel designs shall cause a building or structure to reach no more than a total of two (2) stories. Second story footprints shall not exceed eighty percent (80%) of the footprint of the existing buildings or structure. Second story designs shall be stepped back in the front or the most publicly visible part of the building where there are no architectural breaks;

d. Columns, lintels and other exposed structural elements shall be scaled in a correspondingly massive manner;

e. Buildings shall be topped by "flat" (moderately sloped) roofs obscured by parapets (firewalls). Dead flat roofs are not recommended. Parapets shall obscure the sloping roof surface on the front and side facades as proper drainage may allow. Parapets need not be flat; however, alternative treatments should be consistent with the style of neighboring structures;

f. A human scale should be achieved near ground level on larger buildings and along street facades and entryways through the use of elements such as portales, zaguanes, windows, doors, columns and beams. Portales should provide a transition between the outside street and the building interior.

2. Surface Material And Texture: Buildings shall be coated with stucco or related material that has a texture which simulates that of mud plaster.

3. Color:

a. Building surfaces shall be painted or stuccoed in off white to medium brown, colors that are predominantly found in the area of the town;

b. Woodwork should be stained in natural tones or painted with an accent color compatible with the predominant colors found in that area of the town;

c. Painting of any part of buildings with bold patterns, checks, and using buildings as signs is prohibited. Accent trim or minimal decorative patterns are acceptable.

4. Doors And Windows: The combined door and window area in any publicly visible facade shall not exceed forty percent (40%) of the total area of the facade, except for the use of large display windows located under the portales of commercial buildings and applications of solar features.

5. Solar Integration:

a. Solar and other energy collecting and conserving features are encouraged;

b. Solar features, such as trombe walls, sunspaces, greenhouses, or clerestories are best designed if they are integrated into the new structure;

c. Solar hardware such as collectors, especially water heating collectors, shall not appear to have been set on roofs, walls or the ground as an afterthought; but shall be built into and integrated into the overall building design;

d. Solar features that do not comply with the above shall be hidden from public view by a screening device or disguise. Screening methods include: sufficiently high parapets to block from public view, roof mounted apparatus, fences, berms, landscaping or buildings to block from public view, and ground mounted apparatus;

e. The use of glass areas for collectors, trombe walls, greenhouses, or direct gain is acceptable;

6. Architectural Detailing: Portales are encouraged, and should be constructed of posts and may contain detailing reminiscent of those found in similar historic structures.

7. Mechanical Equipment:

a. Exterior mounted mechanical and electrical equipment, solar hardware and satellite dishes shall be architecturally screened and, in particular, roof mounted equipment shall be of a low profile to minimize the screening problem;

b. Roof mounted satellite dishes larger than twenty four inches (24") in diameter are prohibited. Screening for ground mounted satellite dishes shall be accomplished in a manner as described for solar hardware.

8. Glare: Reflected glare onto nearby buildings, streets or pedestrian areas is prohibited.

H. Design Elements Of Pitched Roof Territorial Revival Style:

1. Massing/Scale:

a. Building elements shall be designed to appear as single blocks, usually rectangular in shape, however, the mass of the overall structure shall meet the "massing" limitations and facade design criteria set forth in subsections E and F of this section;

b. Multistory territorial revival style buildings are discouraged;

c. A human scale shall be achieved near ground level on larger buildings and along street facades and entryways through the use of scale elements such as porches, doors, windows, columns and railings;

d. Porches should be designed to appear as "attachments" to the gain portion of the building. Porches should provide a transition between the outside street and the building interior.

2. Materials And Texture: Buildings shall be coated with materials consistent with the surrounding buildings.

3. Color:

a. Building surfaces shall be painted or stuccoed in off white to medium brown, colors that are predominantly found on the area of the town.

b. Woodwork shall be stained in natural tones or painted in an accent color compatible with the predominant colors found in the area of the town.

4. Roofs: Roofs shall be pitched, either gable or hip, with a substantial slope, but not to exceed eight to twelve (8:12) nor less than six to twelve (6:12) in general conformity with existing adjacent neighboring buildings not including portal roofs, which may have lower pitches.

5. Doors And Windows: Window shapes, arrangements and types may be reminiscent of those found in similar historic structures. The combined door and window area in any publicly visible facade shall not exceed forty percent (40%) of the total area of the facade, except for the use of large display windows located under the porches of commercial buildings.

6. Architectural Detailing: Porches are encouraged and should be constructed of posts and may contain simple railings and detailing reminiscent of those found in similar historic structures.

7. Solar Integration4:

a. Solar and other energy collecting and conserving features are encouraged if incorporated into the structure;

b. Solar hardware shall be mounted flush with the roof and included in overall glazing amounts;

c. Solar hardware such as collectors, especially water heating collectors, shall not appear to be set on roofs, walls, or the ground as an afterthought; and rather they shall be built into and integrated into the overall building design;

d. Solar features that do not comply with the above shall be hidden from public view by a screening device or disguise. Screening methods include: fences, berms, landscaping or buildings to block from public view, and ground mounted apparatus. Reflected glare on nearby buildings, streets or pedestrian areas shall be avoided.

8. Mechanical Equipment:

a. Exterior mounted mechanical and electrical equipment, solar hardware and satellite dishes shall be architecturally screened and, in particular, roof mounted equipment shall be low profile to minimize the screening problems;

b. Solar hardware shall be mounted flush with the roof consistent with the roof pitch and profile and be included in overall glazing amounts;

c. Roof mounted satellite dishes, larger than twenty four inches (24") in diameter, are prohibited. Screening for ground mounted satellite dishes shall be accomplished in a manner as described for solar hardware.

9. Glare: Reflected glare on nearby buildings, streets or pedestrian areas is prohibited.

(Ord. 02-04, 2002: Ord. 99-05, 1999)

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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which partners with a wide range of allies to implement policies that counter concentrated power and strengthen local economies.