9/02/2010Posted by MJ
The LUSJ reported that the common council softened the zoning laws as applied to existing non-conforming front yard parking.
LOCKPORT — The Common Council amended local zoning law this week to allow replacement of “nonconforming” front yard driveways — without a variance. Currently, when a property owner has an old stone, blacktop or concrete driveway area in a front yard, it’s considered a legal nonconforming driveway. That’s because front yard parking is banned in the zoning code.
When the owner wants to fix up that non-conforming driveway, he’s directed to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance, which the zoning board frequently won’t grant. Over the past few years the board has been deluged with parking variance requests and has taken the stance it must uphold the ban on front yard parking, even where it’s been going on for years...
...A one-paragraph, two-sentence addition to “parking restrictions” in the zoning law now allows property owners to replace existing, nonconforming driveways with the same or better surfaces, as long as they’re not increasing the size of the driveway. Instead of paying $135 to apply for a variance hearing, the property owner can simply get a resurfacing permit for $25."
They also state a recent Zoning Board of Appeals case:
...Property owner Doug Roberts of Waterman Street got a variance to resurface a nonconforming side-yard driveway on a split vote of ZBA members in July. He’d actually already had the work done and was directed to the ZBA after-the-fact for the variance; at the hearing, members debated the propriety of sanctioning “illegal” work, with at least one member saying Roberts should be required to remove the newly resurfaced area....
It was a tough case as 1) the broken concrete/asphalt driveway was replaced with a nice new stamped concrete one and 2) that it was on the side of the house, which the city codes still consider "front facade" when applied to a corner property. The topic of creating a situation where people will just let these parking pads deteriorate in order to keep them was discused at length.
The law change makes sense. Two items to be careful for are what people try to pass off as "existing" parking pads and the quality of the replacement work.
In related news, the counsil agenda for this week was not posted at eLockport after I made reference to them before the last meeting. Go figure.