Encouraging new development towards already developed areas has a number of benefits for growing communities. In addition to reducing sprawl, infill can revitalize the downtown/urban core business economy and reduce the need for new roads and other infrastructure.
From a water resource management perspective, infill does not require new water infrastructure and development is usually denser, resulting in less water use.
In the long-term, infill also reduces taxpayer costs as developers in outlying areas pass on water, wastewater, and transportation infrastructure costs to homebuyers, but all taxpayers pay for long-term maintenance.
Encouraging infill does face some hurdles. There may be resistance from existing neighborhoods to nearby higher density development, and there may need to be rezoning adjustments to address setbacks, buffers, and lot size. It may also be more expensive to develop on lots surrounded by existing neighborhoods, and there may be more administrative hurdles related to design standards, more complicated land and tax issues, and redevelopment requirements. These hurdles can be overcome by stimulating developer interest by publicizing the infill parcel inventory, providing examples of successful infill projects, and addressing neighborhood concerns. In addition, communities may provide incentives by reducing infill development costs, such as offering fee waivers and tax abatements, and reducing administrative delays by streamlining the development permitting process.
Avondale’s infill ordinance is focused on revitalizing several neighborhoods in which there are high vacancies, or where space is otherwise underutilized, including the Avondale historic district. Its purpose is also to support a sense of place through compact and mixed use development and to encourage in-migration and economic development. Like other infill incentive programs, water conservation is not the focus of the program, but is a result of reducing sprawl and increasing dense development.
Incentives are provided in the form of reduced building permit and development impact fees and in plan review. The City provides over $10,000 in fee reductions for planning and building permits for new commercial and residential development by reducing these fees by 50%. In addition, it waives impact fees for commercial renovations and for residential remodeling and rehabilitation. The Avondale zoning ordinance designates historic Avondale as an infill overlay zone. This provides relief both from the underlying zoning ordinance standards and, depending on lot size, from some historic Avondale design and development guidelines.
Model Infill Ordinance
Avondale’s Infill Incentive Program
The Historic Avondale Infill Overlay Zone can be found here.
City of Avondale Infill Incentive Program