My town will have a hearing soon concerning an application of my immediate
neighbor for relief to the setback zoning. They will be building an addition to
their home, on the side toward my driveway, and will come closer to the property
line than the 20' setback required.
Ours is a neighborhood of 3 and 4 bedroom ranch and split level homes on about
1/2 acres apiece. The neighbors in question live on my north side and somewhat
downhill. The addition will come fairly close to my driveway on that side of
the house (maybe 10 or 15 feet - they've mentioned the addition and I know one
tree that will be removed). Our relations are amicable and our sons play
together, although differences in background and interests are enough that we're
not really friends. But good neighbors.
Honestly, I can't think of a reason to object. The shadows on that side are
cast by *my* house, there's no real view to be blocked in that direction. The
only *possible* impact I foresee is that I had considered at some point in the
future building in that direction myself, to finish my underhouse garage into
living space and build out to add a garage. But not imminently - perhaps some 5
years from now.
So, my questions are:
1. Am I overlooking some consideration? All I can think of are shadowing, view
blocking, and loss of privacy, and I think the addition and setback is
acceptable considering these.
2. Should I ask or require something to prevent any future impacts (what - I
don't know, just bringing it up..)
3. If all is fine with me, should I attend the hearing anyway?
<< The addition will come fairly close to my driveway on that side of the house
(maybe 10 or 15 feet - they've mentioned the addition and I know one tree that
will be removed). >>
Where I live, the zoning requires that any construction be within 10 feet of
the property line. So sounds like the addition wouldn't need a exemption to be
built in my township.
However, you state that the addition will be 10-15 feet from your driveway, not
your property line. How close to the property line will it be?
And for you future plans, will you need a variance to build? If not, make sure
that anything the neighbor does to his property WILL NOT change your ability to
If it were me, and I was thinking of eventually expanding in that same
direction, I would attend the hearing and let them know that I was in
support of my neighbor's plans, but that I wanted to ensure that the
expansion didn't as a matter of record limit my own expansion or ability
to get a variance if needed.
You want this on the record so that years down the road,when your
application is considered:
A. Your potential objection has been documented. The expansion of your
neighbor's property should be done in context of any future plans.
B. Your neighbor will hopefully remember your support of his expansion
and offer his support, in return for your support now.
here's my horror story of rezoning. I live and older section of town
houses are 90 to 100 years old single family, about 2 years ago my
neighbours rental property burnt up and 7 I repeat 7! days later we
received a letter in the mail saying they were going to build 6 units
on a 135 ft wide lot, of course we were concerned went to city hall
and asked the development department about this and they said we have
nothing to worry about as the density in the neighbourhood was only
rated at 37 units per acre, so he could only put three. Well we were
mortified that they approved this because of a little known policy of
density point system that is if you make the houses look like the
older houses in the neighbourhood you can up the density. we went to
the appeal board , won development permit revoked. then 6 months later
guess what? It's been refiled, the only difference being the back
parking stalls are 1 foot longer and now it's being called an
apartment building . development officer approved it again and we are
heading back to the appeal board on jan 8 ,with the whole
neighbourhood in tow. now this site has 5 waivers,front setback, side
setbacks, rear setback, and site width waivers. i would have this 35
foot building beside me from front to back. my only advise is whatever
city hall tells you ,don't trust them as far as you can throw them!
There's nothing like property rights to start the pot a'boiling. It's
probably impossible to visualize every problem that might eventually
occur. Marc's suggestion seems reasonable. Variance across the street
(size of lot that could be sold for building on) resulted in a bitter
feud with the first purchaser/builder, and completely friendly
relations with the next homeowner.
If you have no objections and you don't see any impact even on a project
you won't be doing for a long time, no need to attend the zoning board
meeting. Unless you just want to see how it all turns out.
Unless you know exactly what sort of concession(s) you might want to ask
for and justification for them, I wouldn't consider asking the zoning
board for any -- and really, I don't think you could reasonably expect
any givene you haven't found a reason to object to the petition as it is.
Drainage should be a major concern. If he is building close to your lot make
sure the water has a place to drain on his side of his property line. Last
thing you want is water from his property running and settling on your lot!
"You can lead them to LINUX
but you can't make them THINK"
Our soil is clay and drainage in this area is poor, but the neighbors in
question are downhill from me. He already has a dry ditch near the property
line. Are you referring to a footer drain? Even if he didn't put it in, what
concern would I have being the uphill neighbor? (Am I overlooking something?)
Ya know, those setbacks are for a reason. If you start
your car in the driveway, it may be a lot more apparent
to your neighbor, or the next person to buy the house.
It also sets a pattern of houses "being close together"
which can somewhat diminish future realty expectations.
After all, if you were to want to sell, prospective buyers
would see your house as having less separation from the
adjacent one. In an area with 'spacious' as a sales term, you
would not have as much of that same asset. Because your
neighbor would have whittled it away with your participation.
It seems to me the potential problem is that the board may refuse you
relief when you get around to building. If your neighbor builds to
within ten feet of the property line, and you are still within the
setback, there is at least 30 feet between the buildings; if you then
ask to build within ten feet of the property line, there is only twenty
feet between buildings, which may be less than they will buy.
I don't think there is any way you can obtain guarantees now that the
board in the future will grant you a variance. They may or they may
not, but they will probably have no record of any promises made to you
(the record of variance hearings is usually remarkably brief), even if
they are willing to make such promises, and the composition of the board
may change by the time you seek your variance, and other neighbors may
object to your variance. Its certainly not impossible that your
neighbor will have moved by the time you apply for a variance, and his
successor will object.
The only way I think that you can protect your plan to expand is to do
the expansion at the same time as your neighbor; if the board has both
requests before it, then they can grant or deny both, but it is unlikely
that they would grant one and deny the other.
SPAMBLOCK NOTICE! To reply to me, delete the h from apkh.net, if it is
Unless you apply for a variance and get a building permit, then renew the
permit each time it is about to expire.
Before my township changed the zoning laws to disallow any residence on a lot
smaller than 50' in front yard width, hundreds of landowners went and got
building permits, and must to renew them every year.
I would certainly go to the meeting. Many things can happen during the
meeting that the original request didn't cover. This has happened in our
neighborhood. When developer got up to make formal request, it was very
different from what we had received in mail. The Zoning board let him
modify the request and started to approve it. Those of us that went to
the meeting asked to be heard and after we had our say, the board only
approved what was originally asked for. The developer was livid. Had we
not bothered to attend, we would have 100 two story mones next door
instead of 50 one story homes. GO TO THE MEETING.
go to the meeting and complain about anything that you dont agree
with... that is what the meeting is for.. and dont worry about the
neighbor.. they will do what they want to do and not care about you.....
so if something is bothering you about the potential of a violation of
the plan.. then take it up there....
The original purpose of set back requirements was to reduce
the likelihood of rapid fire spread. Consider whether his
plans pose a substantial increase in fire danger to your
I would suggest attending the meeting in any event to ensure
that what you _think_ is being asked for is what actually
Since this house is to your North, their facing your property would be the
Southern exposure. Did you see the plans? Will there be a 2-story high wall of
windows facing your home now? 40 or so solar collectors? Is there a patio,
basketball court or jacuzzi or lap pool planned right up against your property?
Go to he meeting and look at the plans. See if you can access the pland BEFORE
the meeting as well - the lawyers and builders who file for these things know
exactly how to "tone down" the request to make it sound like it's a little
itty-bitty nothing they're asking for, when in fact they're planning to
drastically alter your ability to enjoy your property.
Yes, you may ask the committee to stipulate a covenant on the property, even
if you're agreeable to the current request - that it NOT be granted any future
variences, or at least not in your direction - and that the remaining property
be considered "buffer" for passive, not active use only. (No pool, jacuzzi,
basketball courts, driveways, lean-to's, greenhouses, patios, decks, etc on the
land between what's left of their side yard and your side yard.)
I have seen a general contractor put 4 additions on his 4 bedroom cape...
First was the finishing of the attached (via breezeway) garage & breezeway and
the addition of a new 2-car garage.
Next the full dormer.
Next a full dormer on the newer garage and the old garage.
Next was a front porch, the expansion of the dormer above, and a gazebo on the
end of the porch.
The house now looks like there was a tornado and 3 different houses landed on
top of, and next to his. The monstrosity is completely out of character with
the neighborhood of medium size capes and ranches. Really a shame.
It's a single story addition for a dining room, and a front and back porch, to
be built before roofing the whole house (the new roofing being sorely needed).
Per another poster's suggestion I went to the town hall today to look at the
plans actually filed. It accorded with my neighbors' description, and actually
doesn't violate the setbacks by very much. Only by about three feet toward my
I don't think this will happen here - it's a pretty straightforward addition,
and my neighbors are in my estimation pretty straightforward people.
Nonetheless, I'll mention at the hearing that the land left between the house
and my property should be kept to passive uses.
I'll be there. I'm happy with the plans I saw in the Town Hall today, and won't
object unless there is some surprise. Don't think there will be, though. I'll
let y'all know how it goes.
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