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Thread: Limiting livestock and variances

  1. #1
    Cyburbian graciela's avatar
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    Limiting livestock and variances

    Ok, I have a question for you guys. Here is the quick summary of the situation:

    A small town allows an unlimited number of horses in a certain zoning area. There are required setbacks for barns. A horse owner living in the zone wishes to use their garage as a barn and seeks a variance for the setbacks. The variance is granted with the condition that no more than two horses can be housed on the property.

    Property owner would like to get a 3rd horse. They build a new barn that meets setback requirements. They convert the garage back to a garage and no longer need the variance. Can they then keep 3 horses on the property since the underlying zoning does not place a limit on the # of horses?

    I think they should be able to add another horse as long as the garage is indeed a garage once again. What do you think?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    use variances are generally a no-no.

    The setback variance should only be considered if there is a hardship. I doubt this qualifies for the current structure.

    If the new structure meets all of the dimensional requirements, I would think 3 horses would be ok.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian graciela's avatar
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    The whole situation boggles my mind.

    1 - Was it really a variance for use since technically it was an existing structure that changed use and then was in violation of setbacks once the use changed? The variance that was granted only addressed the setbacks. But then again since the setbacks and use are tied together...

    2 -Why did the zoning board (they do not have a hearings board) put a cap on the number of horses that can be kept on the property when the variance was about setbacks and the underlying zoning does not limit the number?

    I am trying to figure out the situation but the town seems to have some strange planning practices.

    Is it normal to have to hire a lawyer to get a variance removed?
    Last edited by graciela; 06 Nov 2007 at 7:24 AM. Reason: more questions.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I would interpret as follows

    1) It sounds like the variance is for the use of a specific building on the site. Specifically to permit a third horse.

    2) Since they have done something to bring the use into conformity, the variance is no longer needed, and unless registered on title needs nothing done to get rid of it.

    3) The garage goes back to its permitted use.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk View post
    I would interpret as follows

    1) It sounds like the variance is for the use of a specific building on the site. Specifically to permit a third horse.

    2) Since they have done something to bring the use into conformity, the variance is no longer needed, and unless registered on title needs nothing done to get rid of it.

    3) The garage goes back to its permitted use.
    Dittos, except to (1) I would say that it was a dimensional variance for the use of the existing garage, which by using it for a permitted use made the location of the building nonconforming.

    But if they built a conforming building to house the permitted use (horses), then they would appear to be fine.

    Think of the use of nonconforming buildings in the context of a single family house. We all get variance requests for setback variances to allow additions to existing non-conforming buildings used for single family where single family is permitted. The variance is not for the use, but for the building housing the use.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  6. #6
    Cyburbian graciela's avatar
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    I don't get why the zoning director is telling the property owner that they would need to hire a lawyer, get the neighbors to agree and go before the zoning board to get the variance removed. I don't get it. If the property is conforming, what is the big deal?

    I think there must be some sort of small town good ole boy stuff coming into the mix somewhere.

    I know that different jurisdictions have different ways of handling things. I thought that there were some issues that have the same basic principles across the board as a matter of legality?

    If this situation was where I am at, I think it would be a non issue.
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  7. #7
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Yeah, looks like the zoning director is trying to cover his arse, politically, and not rely on the law.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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