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Thread: Flag lot variance not required if lot complies with zoning

  1. #1
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    Flag lot variance not required if lot complies with zoning

    Scenerio- town has 3 acre zone but no lot frontage requirements (the old administrator left it out of the amended ordinance) We propose a new subdivision lot which meets all bulk standards in the zone and provide a thirty foot frontage for access. We feel that the lot conforms and no variances are required. The town planner also agrees that the lot complies with the 3 acre zone requirements. Planner reads another section of the ordinance that requires 6 acres for a flag lot and says we need a variance. The shape of the lot is making him call it a flag lot. We feel that since we comply with the bulk requirements for the zone we do not have a lot with insufficient lot frontage and therefor should not be defined as a flag lot even if it looks like one. The town has no definition for flag lot in the ordinance but our opinion is that only if the lot does not satisfy the minimum lot frontage requirements should the issue of a flag lot even be raised.

  2. #2
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Not knowing your zoning code at all, I would suggest that you look into the "General Rules" section of your zoning code or overall municipal/town code. Many codes I have dealt with usually have a catch all statement that reads "If any part of this code conflicts with another part of this code, the moer restrictive part would apply."

    That usually is there to account for the inevitable flaw in any code (even very good ones).

    This may be a part of the code that your planner is using or merely implying.

    But you to really get your question answered you need to consult with a land use lawyer or similar that is knowledgable about your town's development code(s).

    Good luck.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    3 acre lot with only 30' frontage... definitely sounds like a flag lot to me, and if I was a planner there I'd do exactly what your planner is doing. It is just a shame the ordinance doesn't define flag lots.

    In most ordinances, it states that you can apply to the zoning board (or whatever you call it there) to appeal a decision made by a department head. That may be the route you have to take.

  4. #4
    Zoning Lord Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Sorry to disagree with you cch but if a parcel provides the minimum required frontage, notwithstanding its configuration, it shouldn't be considered a flag lot.

    Flag lots where I have worked usually have an "access corridor" width of not less than 20-feet.

    Of course, local rules vary.

  5. #5
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    flag lot

    Met with Town Planners and Board attorney today and they are leaving the definition up to the Planning Board....what I expected...but they backed a little off their strong position that it was a flag lot since we do meet the zone requirements and there are many conflicting definitions of what a flag lot is or when it should be called a flag lot which infers substandard lot frontage situations.

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