That seems like a pretty crucial conjunction, 2/18/2019, EDITS 2/21/2019

Edit 2/21/2019:  Upon reflection, I missed an obvious conclusion.  Whichever conjunction you choose, the phrase in question (in red below) should be removed from the MAC zoning rules.

Original posting follows.


The proposed revision to the MAC statute (.pdf on this page) has this text, with the red sentence being the text they are adding.

"Sec. 18-95.9. - Height limit.
A. The maximum height shall be the lesser of four stories or 54 feet, as shown in Figure 18-95.9.1, Determination of Height. 

The building(s) shall have the appearance of, at most, four stories when viewed from every cardinal direction."

As I have noted recently, that paragraph seems to make no sense.  If a building is no more than four stories tall, it will look like it has, at most, four stories.  Why add the other section?

My confusion arises because I assumed a conjunction:  AND.  I assumed that it reads like this:

"Sec. 18-95.9. - Height limit.
A. The maximum height shall be the lesser of four stories or 54 feet, as shown in Figure 18-95.9.1, Determination of Height. 

AND

The building(s) shall have the appearance of, at most, four stories when viewed from every cardinal direction."

But at this point — see linked page above — I’m pretty sure the intent is to interpret this with an OR:

"Sec. 18-95.9. - Height limit.
A. The maximum height shall be the lesser of four stories or 54 feet, as shown in Figure 18-95.9.1, Determination of Height. 

OR

The building(s) shall have the appearance of, at most, four stories when viewed from every cardinal direction."

Changing the AND to OR completely changes the meaning of that part of the height limit.  With OR, that now says that MAC buildings can have as many floors as they can stuff into the 54′ tall shell of the building, as long as the outside looks like four floors.

And my guess is, in an exercise where the point is to clarify what the law means,  if something is left ambiguous, that’s on purpose.  If they actually put the “OR” in there, it would be obvious that this materially changes the law.

So, that seems like a pretty crucial conjunction.  It would be nice to know which it is (AND? OR?) before Town Council passes this.

So here’s my plea to the Planning Commission.  You folks are first up to look at this.  Please get this clarified, in writing, in the law.  Is this supposed to be AND (in which case the addition is absurd), or is it supposed to be OR (in which case it partially guts the four-floor limit)?

EDIT 2/21/2019:  And, when you think about it, whichever conjunction you choose, the right conclusion is, “OK then, drop that new sentence”.  If the conjunction is “AND”, then it’s redundant.  If the conjunction is “OR”, it partially guts the four-floor limit that the Town used to sell MAC.  Either way, it should be dropped.

And, as noted on the page cited above, you might want to ask what the status of mezzanine floors is now, because it looks to me like all references to mezzanines has been removed in this update.

In case you didn’t recognize the title of this page, it’s from “The Emperor’s New Groove”.  Here’s the relevant clip, via YouTube.