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Zero lot line zoning disadvantages?

Streck

Cyburbian
Messages
604
Points
18
We are considering having a Zero Lot Line Zoning District, or allowing zero lot line lots within a district.

What are the DISADVANTAGES to the CITY of such a district?

I am aware of some claimed advantages.

Has anyone repealed such a district? If so, why?

We are a bedroom community of 15,000 to a city of 250,000 and we are growing rapidly.

Ok, hearing none, are there any DISADVANTAGES to the HOME OWNER having his exterior wall on his neighbor's (common) property line?
 
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Messages
3,690
Points
27
Streck - I think that in general, the planning community would promote 0' lot line allowances to promote creativity in site design, as well as better aesthetics and density. However, the usual arguments against 0' lot lines are: parking and fire safety issues.

Are we talking residential or commercial buildings?
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
28
The success of zero lot line single family is based on design. Good design takes care of fire safety issues (as in any attached form of residential) and privacy. If you have good design review, it is a good option to add.
 

Streck

Cyburbian
Messages
604
Points
18
Oh great Goddess, we are talking about Residential.

I know this is probably an old issue for planners and this forum, but I am new to planning discussions such as this.

As far as design goes, I am worried that some developer will come in with a wonderful smoke and mirrors design, and "everyone" will love it, but we might be overlooking some serious problems we are creating for the eventual owner, or city down the road.

Lee, we have design review, but it is potentially so arbitrary that I am scared that we will be sucessfully sued for being "arbitrary"!
 
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smarty

Cyburbian
Messages
88
Points
4
0' Lot Line

aka - single family attached. We have these here in Bellingham, and they mimic a duplex so if aethetics is a concern, just look at all the mirror image duplexes and this is what you'll get for zed lot line homes.

It does encourage home ownership, but they still seem to be rental units, which seems to increase the number of complaints for 'grandpa jones' and his neighbors. parking is also an issue with these since they can still use SFR parking requirements and avoid ResMulti parking requirements.

Plus SFA can use SF Detached setbacks so the even get more crowded. If you're looking at rewriting you ordinance I would increase the side yard setbacks a bit. Ours are 5' from PL, but I would say 7' would be good. Just to have the lil extra breathing room.
 

Streck

Cyburbian
Messages
604
Points
18
Thank you Smarty,

I was not clear on our definition of Zero Lot Line. We are allowing a house to be built on the property line on one side only. The other house cannot be built on the same property line. We are requiring 10 at the other side yard.

I guess it is also like a Patio Home, but we don't require a "patio". Maybe we should.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
Thanks, Streck. I've seen (and now myself use) the term zero lot line to refer to what are essentially side-by-side duplexes. But I think your definition is the original one. The idea is to reduce lot size by building one wall on the lot line, with no setback. The other side then has a normal setback. The result is that the homes are half as far apart as they would have been under normal zoning. If you are agreeable to the small lots, I can't see any major objections.

I usually see the side on the lot line built with no windows or access. I suppose that would not be a bad thing if it were the north side, at least up here in the better lattitudes. Some consideration may be warranted to see that homes are aligned for the best ventilation and sunlight.

One more thought - I would ensure that there is some mechanism to allow access to the side of the house on the lot line for regular maintenance - probably a covenant of some sort.
 

smarty

Cyburbian
Messages
88
Points
4
WHOA

That's a pretty interesting setup. So, you allow one person to build on the property line, but the other has to build 10 feet back from that same property line. Seems like this could really piss the other builder/property owner off.

Also, seems kind of pointless too. Why not just have 5 foot setbacks from side lines for everyone??

The main issue I can see here is similar to a code section we have about accessory buildings. If they are built on the property line, then how do you paint that side?? how do you fix a window, have an eave, etc. without trespassing onto your neighbors property?? If they're already hacked off about you building on the property line, they moste certainly won't let you walk onto their property to fix your house..........

So much drama in the LBC.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
I have had the zero lot line option everywhere I worked. It is a method to increase density and still have a side yard. It has never been used as envisioned (a block of patio homes), perhaps because of the housing market. In my present community it is used for two family structures to be divided and sold.

A down side is the neighbor issue. The first owners usually get along, but third or fourth generations may not. And what if one burns? What about a purple and orange wall facing the neighbor? Ever seen a two family unit with 1/2 the roof in shake shingles?

I added to the code here:
An owner' association or restrictive covenants are required to detail operation of common areas, insurance needs, and exterior appearance controls.

Also, to answer some other questions:
Where adjacent zero lot line units are not constructed against a common lot line, the developer shall provide a perpetual wall maintenance easement of four feet in width along the adjacent lot and parallel with such wall.
 

smarty

Cyburbian
Messages
88
Points
4
I added to the code here:
An owner' association or restrictive covenants are required to detail operation of common areas, insurance needs, and exterior appearance controls.

We also have this type of owner CCR requirement. The main thing we hate is when homeowners (SFA or SF detached) come in screaming about their neighbors fence or paint color because it doesn't match the CCR's. "What are you gonna do about it?!?!" the red faced retiree/microsoft transplant/ambulance chaser attorney yells.

I gleefully say "Nothing. It's a private CC&R. I can enforce the zoning code, but not this. Have a nice day."

But mostly I would agree with Mikes comments as well.
 

Streck

Cyburbian
Messages
604
Points
18
One of the "advantages" that is pointed out to us by developers is that the five foot side yard is just a waste of space. It can't be functionally used, except for an airconditioner compressor, etc.

They say that if you "combine the two five foot side yards to one ten foot side yard, you have the opportunity to have a usable patio.

I appreciate your other comments about painting, angry neighbors, etc. My original post was to inquire about those DISADVANTAGES of zero lot line.

Thanks for your comments on orientation. Even if the developer is aware of orientation issues and tries to do something sensitive, we find that he inevitably has a cul-de-sac dead end where houses on one side of the street might have a good orientation, but as the lots go down the street and turn around the circle at the end of the cul-de-sac, the zero lot line side yard winds up on the opposite side of the lot as the ones across the street. One orientation is probably bad.

Still looking for more DISADVANTAGES to the owners or city. . .
 
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Mary

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
A couple things to think about would be

1) Drainage. (It's not a big deal everywhere but I know in east Texas draining onto your neighbor is a big potential problem.

2) Access. If you don't have it worked out you'll need to set up some sort of access being legal on your neighbors property or when owner A is on the lot line and owner B decides he hates him owner A may have a really hard time getting permission to get on owner B's land to paint his house or do repairs.
 

Streck

Cyburbian
Messages
604
Points
18
Thanks Mary

That is the kind of Disadvantages that I am looking for. Does anyone have any horror stories based on those Disadvantages?
 

Jasonhouse

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
The zero lot line code, combined with the stipulation of a 10ft setback for the next lot on the built side makes no sense. if you have a street filled with these homes, does that not eventually dictate that all structures will basically be justified to one side of the parcel?

If house A builds to the line on the east side fo the property, then house B will invariably have to build up against the east side of thier property as well, or be centered near the middle of the parcel. Additionally, if house A has built to the line on the eastern side of thier parcel and house C has built to the western side fo thier parcel, what is house B left to build upon?

I smell a lawsuit at some point, unless I am missing something. (which I know I am. Can somebody explain this?)
 

Streck

Cyburbian
Messages
604
Points
18
You are right Jasonhouse

You are right. Because of this, we require the developer of the subdivision to lay out all house buildable areas on the plat before any can be sold. That way all know which side the house shall be on, and we can avoid potential conflicts.

Thanks for pointing out potential problems.

Still looking for more Disadvantages to the owner or city for zero lot line districts . . . . . .
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,533
Points
21
Regulation examples?

I'm looking for some examples of codes for zero lot line zoning. As this is new for me, I'm also wondering -- would this be used as an overlay zone or is it generally used an entire zone? If B, what zone, downtown residential? high density residential?
Any info is appreciated!
 

dankrzyz

Cyburbian
Messages
50
Points
4
Streck said:
Ok, hearing none, are there any DISADVANTAGES to the HOME OWNER having his exterior wall on his neighbor's (common) property line?
(1) Windows looking into the neighbor's yard, especially 2nd floor windows. Nothing that a little clever design review or standards couldn't fix, though.

(2) Maintenance access is another one that comes up every so often for this question, but I don't know that it's that prevalent of an issue. (However I did work in one city that had this situation - the two neighbors were feuding and one wouldn't let the other onto his/her property to paint the side that was flush with the property line. Just an anecdote rather than an planning issue, I think.)
 

Charliesch

Cyburbian
Messages
43
Points
2
Zero lot line

I know of one municipality that allowed zero lot line single family detached houses with one 10 feet side yard. The maintenance easement then extended across the next door neighbor's 10 feet side yard. They came to the conclusion that there was no real benefit between this arrangement vs. allow regular single family detached houses with 2 five feet side setbacks. They said "why go through all that hassle of maintenance easements when you can have the same layout without them?"

I guess an argument could be made that one larger side yard is more usable than 2 smaller side yards. However, in order to keep the maintenance easement in place, the neighbor couldn't do much with their side yard anyway.

I see many municipalities with excessive side yard requirements. I am against large side yards because they serve little purpose - I would rather see larger rear yards. Also, large side yard requirements can make it hard to expand older undersized houses.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
29
One of the benefits of a 0 setback on one side, and larger setback on the other is that it allows for driveways in one of the sideyards to access a rear garage. As long as you have building separation and appropriate building design, fire spread isn't any more of a problem than any other subdivision. The maintenance easement is a must.

As an example: http://www.co.douglas.or.us/planning/Plan_docs/LUDO/Ch3_31.pdf
 

ABS

Messages
104
Points
6
When building to zero lot boundary in Brisbane the builder is required to have a 150 milimetre setback from the property boundary. This means that the wall built-to-boundary and the guttering is entirely on the owners property. It also means there is adequate gap for termite barriers. No windows may be placed on the wall that is built to boundary and the total expanse of built to boundary cannot exceed 15 metres or 50% of the side boundary. Some local goverments also stipulate that only non habitable rooms can be built to boundary, such as garages, storage, laundries, bathrooms.
 

jmello

Cyburbian
Messages
2,583
Points
21
Streck said:
That is the kind of Disadvantages that I am looking for. Does anyone have any horror stories based on those Disadvantages?
Seems to work fine in all of the older cities I have lived in (Newport, Philly, Boston, etc.). Why would newer construction be any different?
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,283
Points
29
Well....

I live in a zero lot line detached single family home neighborhood and it was done right for the most part.
 

ABS

Messages
104
Points
6
Zero lot line construction has worked well in Brisbane and the sorrounding local government areas. It provides an opprtunity to increase density without making an area look too dense. The best stragey to is to mix zero lot line allotments with regular traditional allotments.
 

vagaplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
296
Points
10
Charliesch said:
I know of one municipality that allowed zero lot line single family detached houses with one 10 feet side yard. The maintenance easement then extended across the next door neighbor's 10 feet side yard. They came to the conclusion that there was no real benefit between this arrangement vs. allow regular single family detached houses with 2 five feet side setbacks. They said "why go through all that hassle of maintenance easements when you can have the same layout without them?"

I guess an argument could be made that one larger side yard is more usable than 2 smaller side yards. However, in order to keep the maintenance easement in place, the neighbor couldn't do much with their side yard anyway.

I see many municipalities with excessive side yard requirements. I am against large side yards because they serve little purpose - I would rather see larger rear yards. Also, large side yard requirements can make it hard to expand older undersized houses.

Something for everyone to watch out for: There is a mixed-use subdivision that was approved as a PUD in a city where I currently work. When the subdivision was developed there were lots that were designed and platted for single-family attached homes (townhomes) and each were 25 feet wide. Several years into the development of the project, a property onwer bought three of the 25 foot lots and received a permit from the city to build a single-family (detached) home. Another property owner has bought three other lots with the same intention of building a single-family detached home. However, there is one 25 foot lot left over, in between these two properties, which a third property owner picked up at a tax sale and of course, now she wants a building permit for a house that will be 25 feet wide with zero lot lines on both sides. Not only was this stupid on the city's part, because this was not the intent of the PUD, but there are no maintenance easements on either side of the lot, plus her nieghbors don't like her and won't give her temporary construction easements. So how does she build this house??? I don't know either. Ideas or suggestions???
 

idbeme

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Zero lot lines

In looking at most of the posts on this topic the one issue I dont see discussed is the additional costs to the corner lot owner (house) with a zero lot line built next to it!
Owning a corner lot and having a zero lot line home built on the left of my property is somewhat aggravating here's why:

1. The space between the two homes should be wider if the soffits were taken into account! The Zero lot home should be 12 to 16 inches left allowing both owners axcess and eliminates a lot of other discussed issues.So the zero lot owner also benefits from more room? HOW 16 inches(soffits) X 128 foot lot!!!

2. The soffits are legally on my land wether in the air or not. I payed an additional 10 thousand to have the extra room. Looks like my neighbour has it.

3. Might be an odd question but on my real property report could i be liable to be taxed from my municipality, as the neighbours soffits are on my property as the house overhangs and could he have a case for reduced taxes as the actual square footage/land use be recalculated. Remember it's not showing on my real property report!!
I know funny but maybe not to the owner!!! Remember OJ Simpson got off so anything is possible.Ha Ha!

4.I was also "told" by city planning that I can't build a fence at the back of my property on the zero lot line, which would be against his house. Although a provision says if I build and I allow him axcess by building a U shape to allow 2 gates it's okay????. On My property ????????

5. My property at the front goes right to the zero lot line and i wish to build a decorative fence right along his house and across the front of mine to keep vehicles and kids off of, as I will have an extensive garden and waterfall which all neighbours
would enjoy. Can you imagine how this would look having a fence up against his house and not evenly in between both????

6. Never did my builder explain the maintenance easement or inform me that my neighbours house would be overhanging on my property,as well as i have to allow him axcess etc. etc. etc. Nor did their lawyer!

7. The overall aggravation is left to both home owners on lots designed like this and never was I informed or possibly my new neighbour(april) explained the possible issue's that the soffits and easements etc. etc. etc. would create and all or most conditions of this is to my disadvantage owning the corner lot.

In summary this is not the type of property I wished to own! Nor did I want to be or look like the bad guy, eating sour grapes.
cheers
 
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