Notice a lot of rock-hammering going on lately? That’s because under the Rye City code, basements do not count against floor area ratio (FAR). For example, in the illustration above, both homes have exactly the same floor area ratio even though Home “A” has approximately fifty percent more living space than Home “B”. This is the basement zoning “loophole.”
In specific Rye locations, the value of this “free” loophole basement space may exceed the cost of excavation — even when extensive rock chipping is required. If zoning rules were amended to account for livable basement space (in a similar way the attic rule was recently adjusted), this would help close the loophole and create less incentive for rock-chipping.
Rock-chipping is a symptom of Rye’s outdated zoning and Master Plan. Looking forward, a master plan and improved land-use regulations will not only help address rock-chipping issues, but also long term economic sustainability challenges.