9/02/2010

Front Yard Parking

Posted 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.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I live in the town. Does the city really charge a fee so you can re-surface your driveway? If so, thats nuts!

MJ said...

It's the general building permit system. The town has one too if you call.

It's the process that any municipality uses to ensure that structures are built to code and within the zoning laws.

They are not talking about sealing an existing driveway.

Anonymous said...

the town does not screw it's residents like the city and charge a fee to re-surface (not seal) a driveway.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ said...

Here are your town fees:
http://elockport.com/PDFs/2008/Fee-Schedule-2008.pdf

$20 min for resdiential addition, remodel, repair. Other fees include putting in a swimming pool, siding your house, replacing the roof, etc etc. It's the way it works unless you pretend it doesn't exist.

...and they even charge (screw?) more for a zoning varience meeting. $150 for town compared to $135 for the city. ;)

Anonymous said...

I have lived in the town for thirty one years and I don't think I have heard of one person complain of not having it's own police force or a dedicated fire department. Besides, it seems that every time there's a fire in the city of any magnitude, it burns to the ground anyways. We certainly don't miss the taxes that come along with it.

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The only one I ever heard complain about not having a fire dept is the city fireman that lives off Ernest Rd! He went to a town board meeting and complained.

MJ said...

Back to the old "my dad is better than your dad" banter.

The town is what it is. A low cost district to provide as basic of services as possible that was able to grow off of and use the city it surrounded.

Remove the the City of Lockport from the equation and the Town of Lockport would of been no different than Barker or Sanborn.

It is no different than any other suburb that grew under post WWII federal housing and transportaion policies. Luckily the Lockport area is slow growing so the town will most likely avoid the need to raise taxes as a critical mass is approached (like Amherst Etc...) Conversly it may hit the opposite side of things where the stagnation brings the poverty into the town faster than it can offset it with higher income growth.

Oh...and they have zoning and permits too...

flapninthewind said...

Another aspect of the city fire dept. that seems to always get forgotten (or so it seems), is the 24/7 paramedic service.

Anon 7:57am said: it seems that every time there's a fire in the city of any magnitude, it burns to the ground anyways.

The number of fires of "any magnitude" are not common due to the response time. A kitchen fire could easily (and usually does) become a fire of "any magnitude" in a matter of 10 minutes. I'm not saying the town should have paid fire because honestly I could care less. Like Rocketboy stated...you have a selective memory anyhow

Anonymous said...

I have lived in the town for thirty one years and I don't think I have heard of one person complain of not having it's own police force or a dedicated fire department. Besides, it seems that every time there's a fire in the city of any magnitude, it burns to the ground anyways. We certainly don't miss the taxes that come along with it.(Posted 9/3)

House fire in the city Thursday, house burns to the ground. House fire in the town on Friday, Owner awaiting estimates from contractors to repair.

MJ said...

You are also comparing a house most likely built to modern fire codes to a vacant 100+ year old house most likely stuffed with paper in the walls for insulation, no fire blocks between the wall joists etc.

It would be rather hard to make a direct comparison. The city has larger challenges in fighting a fire. The town may get by with volunteer the city would most likely not. I'll pay the $250/year ($20/mo) for the professional force. It is needed in dense old urban areas.

I'm not certain while people argue this point?

Anonymous said...

MJ - This is a stupid argument because you can't compare two fires - but the town house was a real old house on Windemere. I think the volunteers do a fine job and we def don't need a paid fire dept but this argument doesn't hold water. I also think the city doesn't need paid firemen either, they do need paid ambulance though.

In addition, I think the city should re-consider having a police force too. Between their drunken retirement parties, dwi's and tell me the last major trial that the evidence they collected held up? It looks like this Allen kid will end up with a new trial with all the jurors talking about the lousy job the police did. Is it time for Eggert to retire???

MJ said...

I don't know if you are the same Anonymous but I was responding to the one before me comparing two recent house fires. Also there was a huge difference in house building (in regards to fire codes) between 1900 and 1940 but we'll move on...

I guess my biggest pause for thought is:
1) The sheer number of people who complain about/belittle Wal-Mart wages, policies etc
2) How many of these people simultaneously expect people to work for free (volunteer) to risk their lives saving someone else's property and lives from fire.

Can anyone explain that one to me? It makes sense when areas are underdeveloped etc to get people to volunteer for firefighting duties but it amazes me that developed towns, etc can "get away" with making people volunteer to fight their fires.

Anonymous said...

it amazes me that developed towns, etc can "get away" with making people volunteer to fight their fires.

Really MJ? Are you suggesting that towns are holding guns to the heads of their Volunteer fire fighters? Why does anyone volunteer for anything? Because they want to help people and communities. No one forces them, they just want to make a positive difference. Thankfully, some people are willing to work for the good of country and community and not for money. Have you ever volunteered for anything? If so, why, and who made you do it?

Rocketboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ said...

I am not suggesting that. Just I would not suggest that Wal-mart is holding a gun to their employees' heads. Though there are a lot of people that feel they should be paid better.

I'm just suggesting that possibly it just comes down to money. Whenever a paid force is ever brought up in developed areas the first comments are cost and taxes. Thus we enable the continuation of a vacuum in public fire safety that people have to volunteer for (in the name of country and community?)in order to fill it.

We'd probably mock a municipality that did not want to pay for snow plow service and thus had to have volunteers doing it. Yet we support the practice of having volunteers be the front line fighting fires and coming up with ways to fund themselves. Maybe it's just tradition and as long as enough people are volunteering it will still work. Maybe it's more?

There's nothing illegal about it. It's just a thought to ponder.

Moe said...

Is this suppose to be about front yard parking? I haven't seen a comment about it yet....

MJ said...

It sucks.

Post a Comment

Please be be respectful. Diverse opinions are welcome and encouraged. Trolling/baiting/personal attacks/spam will be deleted on sight, as will respnding to one that has yet to be deleted. Do not encourage the behavior.