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Thread: Applying current standards to existing buildings

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Applying current standards to existing buildings

    So, here's the situation. I have a rezoning request that has turned into a mess. Someone wrote a letter, and I've been asked to respond to several points prior to our meeting tonight. The request is to rezone property from Lighter Industrial to regular Industrial for the applicant to use for his landscaping business. There's this weird section in the code in just the regular industrial section that enough space must be provided for off-street parking of vehicles incidental to the industry, its employees, and clients.

    One of the arguments that is being made is that the site plan, which just shows the existing building, does not show that there will be parking facilities. The thing is that this is an existing facility and it will not require any change of use permits or anything like that for the occupants to move into the building. The only reason the rezoning request was made is due to the outdoor storage and other uses that will occur outdoors.

    How would y'all handle that? Does the fact that he's rezoning change anything? Should I require additional parking should the request be approved?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I'd say you can handle it a few ways. You could require the extra parking as a condition of the zoning. I hate putting conditions on zoning, but it works for this case. They are changing the zoning use even if they aren't changing the building use so there could be a requirement for parking there. You could let the board vary the parking requirement for some reason if code allows that. You could just ignore it and say the use is okay because it was existing, but a new use will have to meet parking requirements. You could just call the business legal non-conforming due to parking.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    The fact that there is an existing structure is really irrelevant to the request in my mind. IMO, rezoning cases should never take into account existing structures or uses, because once the new district is assigned it could change to any use permitted in the table. In NC at least, you would not be able to tack conditions on to a standard rezoning approval. Your code requires that structures in the new district show that "enough space is be provided for off-street parking of vehicles incidental to the industry, its employees, and clients." They need to prove it. Whether it does or it doesn't have no bearing on the approval of the rezoning in my mind. If they do not have enough space for parking, upon approval of the rezoning their property is immediately in illegal non-conforming status and subject to fines and penalties until they fix the issue.

    I wouldn't deem the building as "legal non-conforming" because they willingly initiated the rezoning action.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    The fact that there is an existing structure is really irrelevant to the request in my mind. IMO, rezoning cases should never take into account existing structures or uses, because once the new district is assigned it could change to any use permitted in the table. In NC at least, you would not be able to tack conditions on to a standard rezoning approval. Your code requires that structures in the new district show that "enough space is be provided for off-street parking of vehicles incidental to the industry, its employees, and clients." They need to prove it. Whether it does or it doesn't have no bearing on the approval of the rezoning in my mind. If they do not have enough space for parking, upon approval of the rezoning their property is immediately in illegal non-conforming status and subject to fines and penalties until they fix the issue.

    I wouldn't deem the building as "legal non-conforming" because they willingly initiated the rezoning action.
    Yeah, we can't put conditions on the rezoning here either. I don't know if I agree with the idea that they're immediately in violation once the rezoning is approved, though. Why would they put the investment into getting into compliance prior to the approval of the rezoning?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gtpeach View post
    Yeah, we can't put conditions on the rezoning here either. I don't know if I agree with the idea that they're immediately in violation once the rezoning is approved, though. Why would they put the investment into getting into compliance prior to the approval of the rezoning?
    I mean whether you choose to ACT on the violation is a whole different matter. Of course it makes no sense to comply with the new zoning district until they receive approval. I'd just give them X amount of days to comply after the approval, although that couldn't really be a "condition" per se. Why wouldn't you have to issue a new zoning permit if they are adding to the business in some capacity?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian estromberg's avatar
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    Apply for the rezoning and seek a variance to the parking requirement at the same time? When I worked in planning, we had rezoning requests like that a few times.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by AG74683 View post
    I mean whether you choose to ACT on the violation is a whole different matter. Of course it makes no sense to comply with the new zoning district until they receive approval. I'd just give them X amount of days to comply after the approval, although that couldn't really be a "condition" per se. Why wouldn't you have to issue a new zoning permit if they are adding to the business in some capacity?
    We don't really have stand alone zoning permits (which is a whole different issue - there are so many issues with how this county operates right now). This wouldn't trigger the need for any sort of review. Building inspections doesn't have an issue with it. They're doing nothing to the building or the site itself. The only difference is that they will have more employees than were previously there. It's an old building, so we don't have any sort of CO on record that indicates maximum occupancy that it was originally approved for.

  8. #8
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Do a quick parking analysis of the property with Google Earth or your GIS (if you have a GIS system). If the existing site would comply with the parking requirements, simply state such and move on.

    If the site doesn't/can't comply with the parking requirement, then just call it a legal nonconforming site as it is presumed to be legally established right now under the current zoning district and changing the zoning district doesn't mandate compliance with the new district's standards. Be sure to make it explicit, though, that future site changes may require full or as full as possible compliance.

    Don't over think it trying to satisfy all parties.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Do a quick parking analysis of the property with Google Earth or your GIS (if you have a GIS system). If the existing site would comply with the parking requirements, simply state such and move on.

    If the site doesn't/can't comply with the parking requirement, then just call it a legal nonconforming site as it is presumed to be legally established right now under the current zoning district and changing the zoning district doesn't mandate compliance with the new district's standards. Be sure to make it explicit, though, that future site changes may require full or as full as possible compliance.

    Don't over think it trying to satisfy all parties.
    This is kind of the direction I was leaning. If they do anything that requires additional approvals, it is likely they'd need to address the parking. Otherwise, they get to use it as is...

  10. #10
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gtpeach View post
    The only reason the rezoning request was made is due to the outdoor storage and other uses that will occur outdoors.

    How would y'all handle that? Does the fact that he's rezoning change anything? Should I require additional parking should the request be approved?
    Does your jurisdiction consider the new outdoor storage as an expansion of the use? It sounds like it is, based upon the need for a rezone. Do you have any plot plan or site review requirements for that expansion? We have one, and such a process would cover the parking requirements as a part of that entitlement.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by dw914er View post
    Does your jurisdiction consider the new outdoor storage as an expansion of the use? It sounds like it is, based upon the need for a rezone. Do you have any plot plan or site review requirements for that expansion? We have one, and such a process would cover the parking requirements as a part of that entitlement.
    It's not really an expansion of the use. We wouldn't have a site plan review requirement unless they were installing something permanent (which could include a large parking area), but if that wasn't planned, there's really nothing that would trigger a site plan to be prepared.

    These are helpful questions, though, to help me process through the decision-making!

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