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Subdivision Flag lots -- good or bad?

Vision Guy

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
What's the current thinking regarding flag lotting? I'm thinking in terms of a typical suburban community with one acre zoning and in this case, over 95% built out. Development is gobbling up every bit of available open space.

What criteria might the zoning code incorporate to clarify the appropriateness of flag lots in the code, or for planning and zoning boards to consider?

What communities are state of the art on this?

Thanks.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
Flag lots can break up the monotiny of typical subdivisions. Not every structure would have precisely the same setbacks. To make it work, I think there should be design controls--especially for the issue of a house front primarily facing a neighbor's rear yard. Most homeowners seek privacy for the rear yard.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Being in teh process or preparing an outline for a policy on these I have way to much info in my head, but not written down anywhere, to write a coherent reply, but here are some items to consider:

1) Is the property owner / developer proposing / using flag lots to avoid having to create a public road. ie It is not the best idea to allow the flag pole portion of the lots to be adjacent to one another, creates poor access conditions. (Page 13 of the report mentioned below has a great image of this)

2) Topography of the land. Does a flag lot allow for the development of the land in a manner that preserves a natural feature or avoids a natural feature that may cause problems in the future (steep slopes, wetlands, water courses). Use in these situations may be a good/ desirable thing.

3) What are the development standards like in your community? How do you regulate setbacks and separation distances with a lot that does not really have a front yard? The way we addressed this issue is to have a setback requirement from any other property line that is not defined in the By-law. You may want to look at doing something similar.

You may want to look at the National Cooperative Highway Research Program - Synthesis of Highway Practice 233 - Land Development Regulations that Promote Access Management. The author is Kristine Williams, AICP. It has some interesting comments and standards for flag lots.

Hope this is not too much of a ramble.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
You also need to make sure you only have one tier of flags (no flag on top of flag), maybe a minimum pole width, minimum lot width at the new building setback line, no pole against pole.

I like them, especially on competely wooded lots, there is just something about the long drive down through the trees.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
The pole width could also be tied to length of the pole and the size of the property at the end of the pole. In some cases, it may make sense to have the pole width the same width as required for a public street as the property in the flag portion may be large enough to subdivide in the future. OR conversely limit pole width so that no subdivision of the flag portion could occur. (hope these descriptions make sense)

There are so many options and design standarsd it is difficult to address them all, until someone mentions one.
 

troy

Member
Messages
68
Points
4
Consider how readily the structure in the "flag" can be spotted from the street. Make sure addresses are clearly visible, from the street, even if it means restricting vegetation.

Its very frustrating driving up and down a street trying to follow up on a 9-1-1 error report, and not being able to identify the address of a structure because it is nestled behind another building, or deep in the woods, and nobody bothered to write the address on the curb.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
We loved and encuraged them in Greensboro
-infill
-put to use the deep narrow lots that the city was orig plated in

we also encuraged the flag poles to be beside each other and would only allow one curb cut for the 2 of them.

think of a 6 lot sub div, 3 traditional lots and 3 flags-by making folks share a drive you only have 4 curb cuts *curb cuts were a problem in Greensboro*

things are more compact, orderly-yet varied to the eye, less distance between services etc.

I personaly loved them an looked at buying homes on both the front and rear lots with problems.

just my .02
-d
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
We used to allow them but the community knee-jerked on it a few years ago - too many bad cases and no design controls. Maybe we'll change our tune if we can get the design guides in place, especially since I agree with Mike that there are certain areas and uses where its appropriate. For now our lot standards are:

Street Frontage: 30'
Min Width at Base Setback Line: 80'
Minimum Average Width: Varies by district but startes at 100'.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I think the previous posts provide a lot of good information from a planning perspective. I strongly suggest that you talk to your Fire Department prior to moving forward with any standards. You may have to set limits on length of poles based upon how far structures will be from hydrants. Sometimes, fire may need a turnaround or will require fire sprinklers (both of which can be cost prohibitive).

If you will be allowing two flags next to each other, shared driveways are preferable.

Personally, I have not seen too many problems due to flag lots, other than fire and safety concerns. It can be a good way to add density to an area without changing the perception of a low density neighborhood.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Further to nerudite's comments

The National Building Code (Canada) requires that all properties be readily accessible and that no access(if it is the only one) have a width less than 6 metres and shall be traversable regardless of weather conditions. (ie mud paths not acceptable).

The shared drive way/access point is probably a good idea, but what do you do when teh neighbours start fighting?
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I haven't had to deal with fighting neighbors. Although I suppose it is a possiblity (or a probability). Shared maintenance is usually a requirement on the covenant that allows joint use and access of the driveway. Because the covenant is between two neighbors, none of the cities I have worked for have ever been involved (while I was there at least) in any arguments. Just like fence issues on property lines, trees/roots that go into neighbors yards, and other private concerns most cities do not get into (in my experience).
 

green22

Cyburbian
Messages
101
Points
6
Where I used to live in Brklyn a lot of houses shared driveways. The driveways came out in a T shape from the street. Problems mainly came when someone parked in the main driveway rather than at their end. If nobody would claim the car the car it could be towed. People learn to live together, I heard threats, but never saw any cars towed.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
My grandmother and her neighbour shared a drive way for nearly 50 years, no real disputes, but I can see it happening, specially around here were people threaten each other and do immature things to one another all of the time.

And while it is a civil manner, I have been told by residents "why did you ever let tehat happen that way?"
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
flag lots

They call them back lots here. There are a lot of them because of the historical lot shapes ie. "bowling alley" lots and the ease of developing frontage lots in Ohio. This often leaves a lot of land in the rear of the lots almosr inaccessible with out flag lots.
 
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