Zoning/Variance Advice? - Building & Construction - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Building & Construction

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-26-2013, 05:19 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 81
Rewards Points: 75
Default

Zoning/Variance advice?


are there any good message boards or discussion groups that provide advice on zoning/variances? this place has been great for the project itself but i'm now looking at a variance application and some advice there would be helpful! I live in bergen county NJ.

Advertisement

yellowkid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-26-2013, 05:45 PM   #2
Member
 
GBrackins's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Fairhaven, Massachusetts
Posts: 2,877
Rewards Points: 2,032
Default

Zoning/Variance advice?


why do you need a variance?

Advertisement

__________________
Gary

"You get what you pay for, and sometimes free costs more!"
GBrackins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-26-2013, 08:18 PM   #3
Architect
 
mdsarch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Modesto, CA
Posts: 2
Rewards Points: 10
Default

Zoning/Variance advice?


Is there some reason why you can't ask a planning the local community development department. They do variances everyday and are usually very helpful.
mdsarch is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to mdsarch For This Useful Post:
woodworkbykirk (03-26-2013)
Old 03-27-2013, 10:58 AM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 81
Rewards Points: 75
Default

Zoning/Variance advice?


I'm talking to all the folks i can in my town including the zoning official, town engineer and building inspector. agree they know whats best. but I'm not planning on hiring a lawyer which many folks do and so was looking for some knowledgeable folks to bounce my thinking off of as I've been able to here with construction questions. i'll need a set-back variance and I'll make my case based on "hardship" but there are some very clear arguments you have to make evidently form the research I've done. set-back variance is required since i live on a corner lot and essentially have two front yards and have to satisfy for both or get a variance. my house is not in compliance since it was built in 1850 and was once a 110 acre farm now in the middle of suburbia. the side street that i will not be in compliance with was only built in 1963. And practically thats the only side I can add on to. the town officials agree and feel I have a good case but at the rod of the day its the board I need to convince.
yellowkid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2013, 02:46 PM   #5
Member
 
GBrackins's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Fairhaven, Massachusetts
Posts: 2,877
Rewards Points: 2,032
Default

Zoning/Variance advice?


I do not have experience in Bergen County, NJ, but I have dealt with zoning board of appeals in Florida and Massachusetts as part of my employment at those times.

Demonstrating a hardship is exactly that. Will the current setback eliminate your ability to add on to your home, or does it merely keep you from adding on in a way you want to? You have to be able to show the zoning board why what you want to do makes more sense than what is allowed under the rules. Adding a first floor bedroom when there are none especially for aging Americans makes sense due to mobility issues. This includes what is called "aging in place" where you plan on growing old in your home. Adding a state-of-the-art media/theatre where a variance is required may not. Same with adding a bathroom on the first floor when there are none is another example of an addition that makes sense. Additions that require connection to existing utilities and plumbing are sometimes justification for adding on to a particular side of your home. You have to be able to defend your request by answering potential questions of the board.

Talking with the officials will provide you with information. Sometimes it does not provide you with all of the information.

I always obtain a copy of the zoning regulations and read it myself. In my area it is common for the zoning regulations to have a requirement for a certain setback from a roadway, i.e., 50' front setback. If I call the local zoning office and asked what is my front setback at this address I would be told 50' because that's what the chart in the zoning regulations show. However many times there are exceptions listed in the zoning regulation to this requirement. In my area it is common for an exception to say "nothing can require you to provide more setback than your abutters." It may specify on the same side of street, or within 200' or 300', etc. The reason is homes were built before there were zoning regulations. Those existing homes are now are what is called existing non-conforming.

Some appeals boards tend to be somewhat political in nature. by this I mean if people come to the meeting and complain then your chances of obtaining a variance is diminished. If people come to the meeting in support then your chances are increased. Again I cannot say if your board is this way, I just know in my area it is common.

I always recommend to my clients when applying for a variance to meet with their neighbors and explain what it is you want to do and why you need the variance. Let them ask questions. Ask them do they have any concerns or issues. Try and work those out before going to the appeals. If they don't have any issues ask them to either go to the meeting or write you a letter in support. Again the more support the greater your chances of success.

Precedent: Ask your local zoning official if anyone has been before the board with a similar situation and what was the result of the variance. This is a weaker form of evidence because two wrongs do not make a right. Just because a variance was granted before does not mean one should be granted today. Hope that makes sense. But a history of such granting of variances can indicate the boards willingness to grant such.

Do your homework and have a game plan. Get support in advance of your project. Get written support letter just in case people that support your application cannot attend at the last minute.

If the board seems like it is against your project you may want to ask for a continuance to rethink your approach. In my area if the board votes then its decision is binding for 2 years. You'd have to take the board to court to try and get it over turned. A continuance puts off their vote and allows you to decide if you want to bring in some hired guns or not. an experienced attorney can be a lifesaver sometimes.

don't know if this is of much help or not since I do not have experience with your board. hopefully someone that has will chime in.

good luck!
__________________
Gary

"You get what you pay for, and sometimes free costs more!"

Last edited by GBrackins; 03-27-2013 at 02:49 PM.
GBrackins is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to GBrackins For This Useful Post:
47_47 (03-28-2013)
Old 04-01-2013, 04:30 PM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 81
Rewards Points: 75
Default

Zoning/Variance advice?


Gary thanks very much for the advice. "existing non-conforming" is a keeper! your advice syncs up with much of what I'm hearing elsewhere. the basics of my argument are: the current house has only one full bath plus a half bath carved out of the kitchen; the new addition (which is modest in size -- only 18X18) will give me a full bath downstairs plus a laundry and mudroom -- all practical additions that keep the house current and livable. I have no doubt a new owner would simply knock the old house down and build a new conforming structure since the property is about an acre. as to why I need to locatee it on the side facing the street with a setback issue; theres a couple arguments: architectural -- the side I want to build on is really the only way to connect a new structure to the old; its where the stairs and hall are on both floors, and from the outside its equally obvious its the only place to connect from a design standpoint. Utilities-wise, to your point -- the sewer line will literally run under the new addition whereas on the other side of the house there is no line and with the planned bathroom -- its the most logical way to connect. from a grade standpoint -- the side I want to add to is perfectly level; the other side of the house slopes away pretty dramatically to side yard that chronically floods. And about where you would add on, the oil tank for the furnace is in the ground. finally, it would not set a dangerous precedent for others to follow since there are few similar situations -- my house pre-dates the street, and again is existing non-conforming by circumstance. also my neighbor across the side street in question is not only non-conforming to the same ordinance but about as close as I want to go. thanks again.
yellowkid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-01-2013, 05:58 PM   #7
Member
 
GBrackins's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Fairhaven, Massachusetts
Posts: 2,877
Rewards Points: 2,032
Default

Zoning/Variance advice?


glad I could be of assistance.

Advertisement

__________________
Gary

"You get what you pay for, and sometimes free costs more!"
GBrackins is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Advice is not always correct! Docwhitley Plumbing 9 02-14-2011 10:12 PM
Chain link fence install advice ponch37300 Landscaping & Lawn Care 1 11-10-2010 07:08 PM
Drywall ceiling: Water Damage, looking for advice dawho1 Building & Construction 11 09-13-2010 11:05 AM
looking for Serious advice and Help on Insulation bfan781 Building & Construction 6 05-19-2010 12:02 PM
Electrical Advice Caution!!! Mike Swearingen Electrical 12 03-05-2008 12:51 PM




Top of Page | View New Posts