To stem overcrowding in its practically built-out city, the City Council agreed to prohibit single- and multiple-family homes from sharing the same parcel of land, with a few exceptions.

"(They) are so crowded on the property that it is a burden to the adjacent property owners and to the tenants of those complexes," said City Planner Blaine Gehring in a memo justifying the partial ban.The new ordinances, passed Wednesday night, will also completely ban flag lots, which are portions of a parcel of land subdivided from the property. Often, flag lots are used to build apartment complexes behind existing homes.

"We have a lot of concerned citizens who don't want these in their backyards," Gehring said.

Originally, the council had considered completely banning any development of single- and multiple-family homes on the same property. Following more than an hour of public comment two weeks ago, which included developers who warned that investments would be lost with a complete ban, the council took the issue under study.

What came back from Gehring was an ordinance allowing exceptions for developments of more than two acres in size. Those exceptions include requirements primarily affecting the single-family homes on the property including:

- Bringing all existing homes up to current building codes.

- Tearing down existing homes that can't be upgraded and building new single-family homes.

- Converting the existing homes to at least triplexes, to make everything multiple-family homes.

"We looked for some compromise so these developers will have more than an all-or-nothing option," Gehring said.

The only addition to the proposed ordinance came from Councilman C. Harold Shafter, who wanted to ensure that any changes for single-family homes be required before new construction starts.

"When they see how much an upgrade might cost, they won't run into problems further down the road," Shafter said.

Accepting just the developer's promises that the upgrades would happen was not enough, even though the ordinance stated they had to happen eventually.

"Most people are admirable, but sometimes people don't do what they say, and I want to make sure they do," he said.

Because of those concerns, the ordinance will require that all upgrades be finished before construction of new buildings. Both ordinances were passed unanimously.