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Thread: Variance & Zoning Amendment

  1. #1
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    Variance & Zoning Amendment

    I wonder if anybody can refer me to articles or instructional literature on how to determine the relevance of a zoning regulation (say, only up to 3-car garage allowed per single-fam unit) in the face of petitions seeking to vary the restrictions of that particular regulation (say, increasing to 4- or 5-car garage). Is there a systematic way to its determination -- one that is rational and defensible. ?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Dude or Dudette

    I once lived in Lima OHIO for 3 whole months. How is the LATP doing?

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    I've only been in this town for 7 mos (came from Toronto, ON). I wonder what LATP is -- a transpo planning org?

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    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Lima Army Tank Plant


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    maudit anglais
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    Re: Lima Army Tank Plant

    LATP - Cool!!!

    Chokobar - how the heck did you get from T.O. to Lima?

    Sorry, I guess we're not really answering your question are we? I'm not a zoner, I'm a transportation guy...

  6. #6
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    The tank plant (well, they don't call it LATP) is still here. Just been awarded more than $30M to build new tanks that can also serve as bridges (when, for instance, the bridges gets blown up).

    I came to Ohio because there was nothing for me in Toronto. Mid-westerners are very nice people.

    Now, how 'bout answering my question, eh?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    I wish I could help...

    ...but "rational and defensible" is a Canadian concept. We just change the rules and then wait for the courts and lawyers to tell us if we got it right in this country.

    I don't have a good answer for you - although it is a good question. I'm not familiar with any articles on the subject. I'm sure each planner has their own rationalizations for such arbitrary numbers.

    My best answer would be to have the planning board weigh the impact against the harm the restriction is causing and give each valid petition a fair hearing. I don't think you can come up with a universal guide.

    AM I lost here Cyburbanites?

  8. #8
    maudit anglais
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    No, I think you might be on the right track El Guapo - though I'm certain some of the Current Planners around here can shed some more light on the subject.

    I'm more of a big picture planner - so the one thing I can suggest is to look at potential reasons why the restriction was put in place in the first place and see if they are still valid. Does the comprehensive (official) plan speak to any issues that these huge garages may be causing? Perhaps if Lima is trying to reduce auto-dependence, there may be a reason to restrict garage size (not that a three car garage would be much better than a four or five car one...).

  9. #9
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Sounds like

    El Guapo and Tranplanner are on the right track to me. I am unaware of articles, other than design related issues with "snout houses." If design is the issue, I'd try a google search for snout houses.

    I'm unaware of any such restrictions on the size of garages in my area, it's usually only a matter of meeting the dimensional setback regulations.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  10. #10
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Re: Sounds like

    I haven't seen restrictions for the number of garage parking spaces on a lot, but I have seen regulations addressing "snout houses" (houses with dominant projecting front-loading garages) and the overall garage width along the facade.

    Another possible reason to restrict the number of residential garage spaces is to prevent the possibility of illegal automotive-based home occupations.

    Lima doesn't strike me as a particularly progressive community, for some reason, so reducing automotive dependence probably isn't a factor. I live alone in a house with a two car garage, but that extra space doesn't mean I'm going to drive more.

    Canadian zoning regulations usually don't have anti-snout house provisions, because land in urban areas is much more expensive than in the States, and per-capita automobile ownership is only a wee bit lower. No alleys (gotta' keep 'em plowed, which costs money), narrow lots, and lots of cars in a family; if there were no snout houses, there'd be no parking.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  11. #11
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    chokobar wrote:
    Now, how 'bout answering my question, ?
    Uh huh, Gordy. I get it now. MIss those "snoot hooses" ... EH?

    Some warm memories ...



    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  12. #12
    Member Mary's avatar
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    Most of the restrictions that I've seen address not number of cars garages but square feet of building floor space allowed and sometimes they height allowed. The idea of them I'm fairly sure is to keep the garage from becoming the center of the lot. I would think it would be more defensible as you can site a reason for it and it wouldn't allow a three car garage with two bays going on to the 1000 square foot shop and the boat annex etc.

  13. #13
    Member Glomer's avatar
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    The arbitrary number of 3 stall spaces would be more easily defended if it were brought forth in a different light. You should look into limiting the size of garages through limits in sq. ft. rather than number of stalls. For instance the garage can only be a certain % of of the total footing of the principle use. Therefore you aren't being the commey planner from hell.......you can tell them that they can have as many stalls as they want, as long as they build a mansion to support the garage.

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    Dan is is right, my town is not progressive (I bet he's got a crystal ball); but we have an army tank plant.

    So -- based on all your comments and hypothesizing, it seems that there is no standard practice in determining relevance of a regulation based on variances granted. I may have to go back to the rationale why it was resrticted (in '62). For this, I may have to look at available census figures (ie - vehicles available per h-hold) and see if we are reasonably progressive or regressive.

    Thanks --

    GO!! CRAPTORS, GO!!!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Maybe I'm a bit off, but for some of these standards, isn't the basis really what you might just call "cummunity standards." The actual codification of those standards might be percent of fraont facade that might be garage, etc. Maybe the variances are due to changing community standards, or maybe the codes need to find a different means to achieve the desired result.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    We had a three vehicle garage limit until last year. Bathrooms were also prohibited in garages. From what I can gather, it was the fear that they would become shops. The code now states that residential accessory structures cannot be larger or higher than the principal structure.

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