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Raging Non-conformities

lowlyplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
69
Points
4
According to the planning theory drivel I learned in grad school, you can slowly "phase out" uses you don't like by making them non-conforming. Our city's zoning code has taken this to heart, and lots of things in many of our older neighborhoods are non-conforming - duplexes and quads (got to maintain the sanctity of the single-family neighborhood, apple pie, etc.), isolated commercial uses, even some older lot sizes.

My question would be: Does this ever actually work? What I see happening is: duplex in mostly single family neighborhood made non-conforming. Continues in use for many years. Some dolt of an owner allows the power to be off for than a year - loses legal non-conforming status. Property sits vacant. Sits vacant some more. Various owners come and go; each one learns that the property is essentially unusable, and tries to foist it off on some other unsuspecting person. Finally someone ends up with the Planning Department, trying to get it rezoned.

I have yet to see anyone knowingly buy a non-conforming building, tear it down, and build something conforming, as our code seems to intend. Have you'all? What I see is perfectly sound structures sitting vacant for years, and occasionally for decades. Is it just our code / map that's screwed up?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
They ain't goin/ nowhere!

I agree with you. They are there for the duration. Thank god. Something has to break up the monotony of modern townscapes.

I agree with your implied criticisms. Heck, half the neighborhoods that I like (with all the "illegal" duplexes and little corner stores) are completely illegal/contrary to the overly tidy minds that dominate modern American planning. You can't blame zoning always. We've just been informed that our Fire Department now insists on driving huge ladder trucks on single family residential responses. So, the streets have to be even wider and have even more generous turning radii. God, our subdivisions just bake in the sun out here.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
1)The main question that has to be asked is why did council decide to knowingly make many long term/existing uses non-conforming? And what expectation did / do they (council) have that the property owners would bring the use/buildings into conformity? If is not reasonable to expect the redevelopment of a property in conformity with the By-law, then the property should be zoned in an appropriate manner. (from a recent appeal) This is more true for residential uses then comercial or industrial uses.

2) It sounds like your mapping/code may need a bit of tweaking to better recognize existing land use patterns and uses. It may not be pretty, but it is probably practical. (reality vs theory) We are continually reviewing our maps to make sure that they reflect what is on the ground and what should be on the ground. I actually had it pointed out to me this week that we miszoned an apartment building that had been there for 20 years. This apartment is in a neighbourhood of apartment buildings and meets all the requirements to be zoned for an apartment, just a mapping error.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,853
Points
39
We have a HIP (Higher Intensity Planned Development) land use in a high-growth area, and existing homes/trash businesses are being rapidly converted to the only zonings permitted there (Planned Unit Development, Planned Commercial District) and nobody is balking. I guess it helps if it's a very desirable area.

By the way, love the logo. My son was a LowlyWorm fanatic for many years, we have all your videos/books/computer programs/and figurines.
 

lowlyplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
69
Points
4
The non-conformities I end up dealing with are mostly in the older, lower income (and black) parts of town.

I think most of them were created on purpose, using the state of the art planning theories of 1957: Multi-fanily bad! Duplex bad! House Good!

Zoning Goddess: I didn't know they had lowlyworm videos and computer programs and toys now... All I ever had were the books.
 
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