I contacted the zoning officer and he said that max density refers to townhomes, senior care centers, etc. but that type of housing is not permitted in the rural district I’m in.Likely that you must have at least one 2 acre lot for one detached house.
But I don't know your local code/regulatory environment specifically, so please contact the zoning officer.
Thanks the the reply! Makes more sense now.Density typically refers to multi-family housing.
Sometimes it creates an artificial lot size or controls the number of lots in an area if there is a new subdivision. The key word, at least in my city, is "new subdivision".
Most codes will have a minimum lot size such as 1/2 acre or 7000 square feet.
I worked for a rural area in Kansas. Our density was 1 unit/80 acres (I told you it was rural). This means you only get 1 home every 80 acres.
The minimum lot size was 3 acres.
The problem comes up when when 2 people have 2 40 acre lots side by side and each has a house. Let's just say it's always been that way before codes existed.
So if one of the people wants to divide the land I look at it and say he has 1 house per 80 acres already. I would have let him divide the house from the farm ground, but the farm ground would be restricted to no housing through some extra code provisions we had.
In your case it sounds like you have 1/2 acre of land and there is another property with 1/2 acre of land. No new subdivision or lot split is happening. It doesn't sound like the neighbor is creating a new lot. Which is what most density and lot size codes really control.
If that's the case the lot might have some kind of grandfather or legal non conforming rights. Which means yes they can most likely build a house there if they meet the rest of the standards.
In other words, if the lot is already there most likely they have the right to build a house.
But like everyone said, it's up to whoever your city or county planner is to really know the code and say what can and can't be done. Every place has little quirks in the code that make it different. Things like living in farm country. Kansas had a rule that farming could not be zoned. So if it was farm land, farm houses, or in any way associated with a farm zoning didn't touch it. You're in NJ so I don't know what NJ laws would do.