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Thread: Floor area ratio questions

  1. #1

    Floor area ratio questions

    1.Has the constitutionality of FAR or any other bulk tool been contested?
    2.What percent of communities nationwide utilize FAR's?
    3.Has there been any studies that indicate the the increase or decrease in property value as a result of FAR implementation.

    I live in a community where there is a very strong builder/developer lobby. Statements have been made that imposing an FAR is unconstitutional because it take rights away from the property owners and decreases property values. I live in an area that developers have been targeting for infill development replacing homes of 1200 square feet with homes of 2500-4000 square feet on lots mostly under 9000 sq ft. I would greatly appreciate your feedback and advice.

  2. #2

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    I cannot direct you to specific challenges of FAR regulations, and I doubt that anyone knows what % of communities use FAR or similar bulk regulations, but reasonable restrictions on the intensity of use are very common and almost universally upheld. The key is making them reasonable!

    It seems to me that what you are addressing is the character of your neighborhood. That needs to be documented and embodied in some way, perhaps as a special neighborhood planning district, in your community's comp plan and regulations before you can successfully defend it. A major effort.

    Many Western US resort communities have grappled with the size of home issue. You might contact planning departments in places like Aspen.

  3. #3
    Don't listen to the developers' statement about constitutionality and takings. A city has every right to impose an FAR, an impervious coverage limit, or many other maximum development limits. Lee Nellis is right: make sure it's reasonable and that there is a nexus to the public purpose, which could be maintaining the neighborhood character. Do what's right for the public interest, not for the developer. In the best of all worlds, the two interests intersect. Find that intersection.

  4. #4
    I can't reference any test cases or economic studies, hopefully, someone here can. I'd agree with Lee and Jeff about the reasonableness test for any such regs though. As long as you can root it in that nexus, a judge would have no constitutional basis to void such a law.

    Also, any economic study would have to measure the whole picture, not just some percieved taking in diminuition of value that would be the end result of a speculative venture.

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