Original Zoning: RSA-5
Seeking: Multifamily variance with 6 units
Lot size: 2,556 sqft.
This project was for an RSA-5 → multifamily use variance for a large, L -shaped, rear lot in the East Point Breeze neighborhood. The original application was for 7 units and the final outcome was 6 units.
The zoning classification of the lot was rsa-5. As you can imagine, this posed many issues due to lot size, location, and shape.
Our client came to us ¾ of the way through this project. We took over after the RCO requested a second meeting to clarify a number of issues with the project; some including too many units, lack of a clear trash plan, and lack of a strong hardship argument.
Some neighbors brought up the idea of building three single family homes to avoid the need for a multifamily variance. This was not possible because the lot is L-shaped and is a rear lot.
One of our reasonings for the number of units was due to the lot size. Because the lot is 2,556 square feet, six of these units were allowed, “by-right”, dimensionally speaking. Meaning: If this lot was already zoned for multifamily and we were just looking to build on it, we would not have have to ask permission to build six units because the lot was already big enough to do so.
Let’s look at the math.
The rules state that dwelling units can be no less than 380 square feet for the first 1440 square feet of lot space. After the first 1440 square feet of lot space, units must be at least 480 square feet.
Here’s the math as it pertains to this project:
1,440 sqft. ÷ 380 sqft. = 4 units
2,556 sqft. (total lot size) – 1440 sqft. = 1,116 sqft. (leftover square footage of lot)
1,116 sqft. ÷ 480 sqft. = 2.325 (rounded down to equal 2)
4 units + 2 units = 6 units
We were only asking for a use variance, not a dimensional variance. We were not trying to fit more units than was allowed by the area aspects of the code.
The neighbors vote was all over the map, with the overall outcome being a ‘no’. The board was split 50/50.
There were enough legitimate reasons to convince the zoning board to vote 100% yes for the variance, specifically due to a few factors:
Wait what about parking?
The street the property is located on already does not have parking because it is too skinny. parking was not enough of an issue for it to be a reason this project didn’t go through. All of the reasoning and hardships combined were enough to overrule the ‘parking’ issue.
Overall, this was an extremely favorable outcome, especially after all of the complications early-on. We were thrilled to hear approvals across the board (except from the planning commission.)
Parties we collaborated with for this project:
Attorney: Joseph Console (Console Matison LLP)
Architects: Supreme Architects
Consultant: Dennis Lee
October 23, 2017
Use Variance, Zoning Projects