Do building shadows equal ice?

Mammoth Fire Division Chief Thom Heller

Mammoth Fire Division Chief Thom Heller

When the Mammoth Town Council approved changes in the Zoning Code recently, they heard from Mammoth Fire Division Chief Thom Heller. He pointed out concerns about adequate parking requirements and potential shading of winter streets by tall buildings.

Safety lies at the heart of both issues for fire officials. Division Chief Heller said the new bowling alley is a “great example” of parking concerns. Heller said there could be more than 500 people in the facility with a parking lot for 37 cars.

Heller’s main point of concern focused on a building height of 55 feet on the south side of Main Street with buildings potentially moving closer to Main Street. He said shading from taller buildings could mean more icy roadways – dangerous for driving. Heller said, “There has never been a shading study.”

Heller pointed to areas of Main Street that are shaded by trees and the inclination of motorists to slide into each other. Said Heller, “If we duplicate these conditions with tall buildings, it could be an icy situation. We believe it’s a concern.” Heller said officials applaud the General Plan and Zoning work to get ready for more building in town, but the height of buildings, sun exposure and shading of Main Street could cause problems.

Planner Sandra Moberly said that the 55 foot tall buildings were allowed in 2007, but she said the Planning Department would do design review and deal with any hazard issues. She said the Fire Department could review plans too. She also said planners could do a shading study.

With those assurances, the Town Council voted unanimously to approve Zoning Code amendments.

Mammoth Fire Division Chief Thom Heller

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