Rather than automatically having to get a variance, do any of you have zoning ordinances that allow for some sort of automatic exemption for legal non-conforming lots? A township I work with has a lot of small lake lots with places that were built before there was a zoning ordinance. Every time one of the owners of those homes wants to do something, they almost always need a variance. Is there a way that other places get around this without requireing a variance?
This is one, extreme, example. A guy wants to tear down his existing weekend shack and build a new home. His proposed new home is completely within setbacks. However, there is an existing 9X30 shed that is 1 foot from the front and a side lot line. Even though the owner's plans don't call for him to touch the shed, he still has to get a variance for the legal non-conforming shed.
Let me state that I'm only asked about this because I was told to research it by the Planning Commission. I am personally opposed to any kind of automatic exemption mechanism. Also, the petitioners aren't the ones who are complaining. They are happy to fork over the fee, just so they can build their houses.