Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative

The Homestead

Homestead Homework: Challenge #2 – Zoning Issues


I don’t have any previous experience to compare this whole process to, but it seems like every step of the way we are encountering obstacles. Maybe that’s just par for the course, but it can be discouraging! More than once this week I’ve had to step back and take a breather because things were starting to feel heavy.

We have been going back and forth with the county building department and the local zoning board to find out about parceling the property and their requirements for a driveway. We always thought we would just share a driveway with Andrew’s parents since that seemed to make the most sense but there’s some confusion around whether this is actually allowed. Another super frustrating process. There seems to be no consensus on this and whenever Andrew talks to someone, they aren’t quite sure and have to “talk to someone else” to get any sort of answer.

If we can’t share a driveway, that means we would have to build a bridge over the creek (not cheap!) something we wanted to avoid. There was talk of creating a “common-access drive” which would include having to widen the existing driveway up to the point where the driveway would split amongst other complicated things. I think it’s completely unnecessary and a waste of all our time when the most obvious and easiest solution is already there. If we build a bridge, there would literally be three bridges right in a row (Andrew’s parent’s, ours, and the neighbor’s) all in a span of about 300ft.  After a lot of going round in circles, we came to the conclusion that as long as we have enough frontage (minimum frontage is 175 ft. – meaning, our piece of the property has to have at least 175 ft of space along the road) we should be able to share a driveway.

But of course – it turns out that we are short of having the minimum amount of frontage to even parcel off our piece of property (even despite the fact that during our initial conversations with the zoning board, the person we spoke to looked at a map and said it looked like we would have enough frontage.) So now we have to go before the zoning board and request a variance on the minimum frontage required – which is basically an exception to the rule of 174 ft. and allow us to parcel our property with only 166 ft. of frontage.

Based on Andrew’s conversation with our contact at the board and a little research of our own, the things that affects the outcome are these questions:

  1. Will the property yield a reasonable return or can there be a beneficial use of the property without the variance?
  2. Is the variance request substantial?
  3. Will the essential character of the neighborhood be substantially altered or will adjoining properties suffer a “substantial detriment” by granting this variance?
  4. Will the variance adversely affect the delivery of governmental services?
  5. Did the property owner purchase the property with knowledge of the zoning restrictions?
  6. Can the problem be solved by some other manner than the granting of a variance?
  7. Will the granting of the variance preserve the “spirit and intent” of the zoning requirement and will “substantial justice” be served by the granting of the variance?

We will just have to present our case and see what they decide.

We’ve already reached out to a local surveyor who will eventually help us draw up the parcel to submit for approval to the zoning board. For the time being, at the advice of our contact at the county board department, we aren’t worrying about the shared driveway situation until we can figure out the parcel issue.

But before we even go down that route, we have bigger issues to deal with that I’ll write about later this week. Sometimes I go on Zillow and just look at houses for sale and comfort myself with the knowledge that if all else fails, we can just buy one. HA!

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *