# Zoning 🟧Setbacks with odd lot shapes

#### mallen

##### Cyburbian
Setbacks, setbacks.

Does anyone know a good way to effectively and consistently handle all of the potential setback interpretations? I have seen development handbooks that attempt to show some configurations. Does anyone know of these types of examples online?

My specific question relates to how to handle rear yard setbacks for odd shaped lots (very odd shaped, like pointed at the rear, or even curving lots)? Particularly multi-sided lots, corner and triangular-shaped lots?

Thanks for the help.

#### Jeff

##### Cyburbian
As for your odd-shaped lots, it's pretty common to start measuring a setback only when the minimum lot width is reached. For example a flag lot, you don't measure from the street but on the flag portion. Same principles can be applied to any lot.

Multi sided?? Aren't they all? No I know what you mean. You shouldn't allow side lot lines to intersect the right of way at an angle which is not radial or perpendicular. It's just not good engineering. So that would establish your side lot lines and setbacks, and everything else is the rear property line. You can start getting into angles of intersection and deflection with the right of way to furhter define too.

Corner lots usually get a front yard setback on the 2 sides that front the street, rear yard on the remaining 2 if the house is canted, if not only the side hat faces the rear of the house

#### mike gurnee

##### Cyburbian
Determining the rear usually causes the most problems. Our code definition of Lot Line, Rear:

That property boundary that is opposite to the front lot line. For zoning dimensional requirements and where lot lines are irregular, the rear lot lot line shall be deemed to be a line not less than twenty feet long, lying within the lot and parallel to the front lot line at its midpoint.

A bit confusing when you read it, but try it out on few examples and it makes sense. It creates a straight line across the rear for measuring.

#### donk

##### Cyburbian
We got around this by defining all of the types of lot lines(front, side, rear) using lehman's zoning dictionary, then having a requirement for "any lot line not specifically mentioned or defined". The setback for the "other" is the same as a side yard.

And as for MIkeD's suggestion, we actually do it backwards to that. We measure the frontage(width) of a lot at the minimum setback.

#### Rhys Rowland

##### Member
Setbacks for Irregular Shaped Lots

In Davis, for the case of a triangular or gore shaped lot we define a rear lot line as "a line ten feet in length within the lot, parallel to and at the maximum distance for the front lot line.

Its a bit vague as much of our code is, but I hope that provides some help!

Rhys

#### Jeff

##### Cyburbian
Re: Setbacks for Irregular Shaped Lots

Rhys Rowland said:
In Davis, for the case of a triangular or gore shaped lot we define a rear lot line as "a line ten feet in length within the lot, parallel to and at the maximum distance for the front lot line.

Its a bit vague as much of our code is, but I hope that provides some help!

Rhys

In a triangular lot there are no parallel lines.

How 'bout the line which is the furthest distance from the street right of way.

#### NashvillePlanner

##### Member
I am not sure that I would find a way to handle the interpretation of setbacks through graphic representation unless your area in question is one that falls within a redevelopment area or some type of an overlay district - where you may be looking for more "different" setbacks. Regarding odd-shaped lots, in general, within typical subdivisions, I would recommend handling the problem via policy if it is not clear in your Code. In other words, if that triangular lot (one that points to the rear) has the rear of a home facing it on the left, and then the side of a home facing it on the right, then logically you would call out your rear setbacks for the subject property from the property line that faces the rear-facing home on the left. Make sense?? In other words, look at the existing character of the neighborhood to help you make those calls. In some instances, you can actually have 2 frontyard setbacks (for a lot that is pointed in the front), unless the house is situated in such a way that the front facade faces one plane more than the other, or if the garage is pulled to one side more than the other.

#### zonerlbc

##### Member
In a triangular lot there are no parallel lines.

How 'bout the line which is the furthest distance from the street right of way.

No, what he's saying is that you DRAW a line parallel to the front line. This is common and is how several (most, in my experience) zoning codes deal with the rear line issue on a triangular lot.

Moderator note:

You do realize this is a 13-year old thread, right?

Last edited by a moderator:

#### zonerlbc

##### Member
No, what he's saying is that you DRAW a line parallel to the front line. This is common and is how several (most, in my experience) zoning codes deal with the rear line issue on a triangular lot.

Moderator note:

You do realize this is a 13-year old thread, right?

I do, and when I am searching for an answer to something on the internet, even 13 year old information can be incorrect or be enhanced by clarification in the hopes that henceforth, anyone encountering this thread may be less confused about how this type of setback is often treated. :thumbsup:

#### akops

##### Member
I do, and when I am searching for an answer to something on the internet, even 13 year old information can be incorrect or be enhanced by clarification in the hopes that henceforth, anyone encountering this thread may be less confused about how this type of setback is often treated. 👍

Made an account specifically just to say I stumbled across this thread and found it helpful 18 years after the initial post 😅

#### Dan

Staff member
Moderator
An 18 year old thread, and only now am I posting in it.

Here's what I wrote for our FBC. Because the code is intended for TNDs that haven't been built yet, regulations prohibit oddball lot shapes unless they're unavoidable. We wanted to keep things simple, so we didn't have any special provisions about how srear setbacks from pointed lots are measured at a point where the distance between the side lot lines is 10' or more, or the like.

Setback and build-to area

A setback is the distance at a right angle (⊥ 90°) from a lot line into the lot. Setbacks define an area in a lot where this code allows certain buildings, structures, or improvements. A setback is distinct from, but usually included in a yard area (see the next subsection).

Front setback (F on the next graphic) is distance from a front lot line.

Corner side setback (C) is the distance from a corner side lot line along or following a street right-of-way.

Interior side setback (S) is the distance from an interior side lot line that is not next to a street right-of-way.

Rear setback (R) is the distance from a rear lot line. For a pie slice-shaped lot that is not a corner lot, rear setback measurement is from the point where side lot lines meet in the back yard.

Alley setback (A) is the distance from the alley lot line.

A build-to area is an area on a lot where all or part of a principal building’s front or corner side façade must be placed. It is measured as a minimum setback range from the street lot line.

Part of a building façade may be behind a build-to area, but it must not be in front of it. If a building type has a minimum frontage occupancy requirement (see below), the part of the façade behind the build-to area does not count for calculating frontage occupancy width.

Frontage occupancy is the distance or percentage of lot frontage width that a building façade or elevation takes up, in a build-to area.

Yards

A yard is the part of a lot between a principal structure and the bounding lot line.

A front yard is the part of a lot between the front lot line, and the contextual front façade of a principal structure, extended from the rearmost corners of the front façade and the side lot lines.

A corner side yard is the part of a lot between a principal structure and the corner side lot line, not including front yard area.

A side yard or interior side yard is the part of a lot between a principal structure and the interior side (or side alley) lot line, not including front yard or rear yard area.

A rear yard is the part of a lot between a principal structure and:
• the rear (or rear alley) lot line; or
• for a pie slice-shaped lot, the point where the side lot lines meet behind the structure.

It includes areas behind the shortest line that connects a structure rear corner and the nearest side lot line, but not the corner side yard area

Lot and site dimensions

Lot or site width
at the front of the lot is the distance between side lot lines at the front or principal street frontage, along a straight line or chord of the lot line.

Minimum lot width measurement is at the minimum front setback or build-to area line (see the next subsection) for the principal building type and zone.

#### luckless pedestrian

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Made an account specifically just to say I stumbled across this thread and found it helpful 18 years after the initial post 😅

we hope you will stay - this was good to read again and I loved Dan's update