AURORA | Future homes in Aurora could be built with less bricks and be more energy efficient if Aurora City Council approves a new city ordinance next month.
A majority of council members agreed at a July 16 special study session meeting that new residential design standards are needed to meet the demands of home buyers and home builders.
In an effort to appease home builders, the new ordinance decreases the amount of brick required to build a home from 30 percent to 15 percent. In return, home builders would have to meet energy efficiency, architectural and durability requirements.
In order to make sure that home builders are following those rules, the city would institute a point system where home builders would have to meet a minimum number of construction points before they can construct a house.
For example, home builders would have to earn at least 10 architectural points for attributes such as wide columns, shutters and covered porches.
Future houses would also have to be built with a minimum of eight points worth of conservation elements, which include dual flush toilets, Energy Star Certification and weather-based sprinkler systems.
Under the ordinance, new homes in Aurora could look like those in Stapleton, built with very little masonry, said Jim Sayre, the city’s manager of zoning and development review.
“We’re striving for a more quality architectural product than what is now called for in our standards,” he said.
Sayre said Aurora is currently the only municipality in the state with a masonry requirement, and if it passes the new residential design ordinance, it’ll be the only city in the state with an energy efficiency standard, Sayre said.
The new ordinance encourages competition among home builders, industry executives said at the meeting.
“It drives better architecture,” said Jeff McGovern, director of construction for Lennar, a Miami-based home builder.
The ordinance will also promote diversity in the exterior of a home, so not every home will look the same, he said.
Officials from the Home Builder’s Association lauded the requirements, saying studies show buyers prefer nicer appliances, more energy-efficient homes and landscaped backyards over masonry facades.
McGovern, who is also a member of the HBA, said that by decreasing the amount of brick required to build a home from 30 percent to 15 percent, home builders will save between $1,000 and $10,000.
They’ll use the savings to make energy efficiency improvements, which will attract home buyers, he said.
The new masonry standards would apply to only certain neighborhoods in the city. Home builders would still be required to use at least 30-percent brick in any subdivision that is more than 50-percent built out and where houses were built with 30-percent or more average masonry.
That means the Beacon Point, Sorrel Ranch, Cross Creek and Wheatlands neighborhoods in Aurora would all maintain the 30-percent rule, Sayre said.
In other neighborhoods such as Rocking Horse, South Shore and High Point, home builders would have to abide by the 15-percent masonry standard, under the draft regulations.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission members are vehemently opposed to the brick changes.
The six commissioners unanimously voted in May against recommending the amendments to the city’s residential design standards because they were worried that the 15-percent masonry standard would “reduce residential quality.”
“We are concerned,” said Commissioner Brent Jones at the study session meeting July 16. “The concern we have overall is that we do not want to return to the look we had so many years ago.”
Sayre and McGovern disputed Jones’ comments.
“I’m not interested in building the homes we built in 1996,” McGovern said. “This ordinance won’t allow that to happen.”
More than a decade ago, city officials instituted a design control standard that required home builders to construct new houses using at least 50-percent brick, in response to the city’s inventory of low-quality housing.
By mid-decade, that standard was reduced to 30-percent brick to meet the demands of home builders.
Council members said the new 15-percent masonry requirement and the mandate that home builders meet architectural and conservation standards will give the city a new and improved look.
“To me, the feature that stands out about this is architectural variety,” said Councilwoman Melissa Miller.
Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or [email protected]