Posted by Frank Chin on July 28, 2007 at 05:04:20:
Bob will have to know the zoning issues in his town, and how seriously zoning is taken there. More and more, municipalities are tough on things they used to let slide.
Most of the suburbs in the NYC metro areas, NJ included, are zoned “one family”. Recently I asked about an older women who retired from my business, and bought into a home in south NJ wth here daughter a year ago, “how she’s doing”??
I was told they had to sell the place and move already. The reason was they thought it was a simple matter to get an added unit “approved” and built for mom, in other words, converting a SFH to a mother/daugher unit. Guess it wan’t so simple.
I was reading that it was a tectonic change in thinking in many neighboring area towns that even considered allowing “mother/daughter” units. The reason was many older retired folks:
- Have homes too large that they cannot afford, yet cannot take on young single roomers.
- Young single folks cannot afford to live in many of these towns because the only housing is large SFH on a large lot.
- People cannot have aged parents moving in because they cannot built or convert to have an additional unit.
Even so, they are very still tough im the NYC metro area, particularly low density areas zoned for single family, and those for 2 families, where I live. The reason are not only infrastructure issues, but the fear of more traffic, congestion, and in the long run HIGHER TAXES.
As an example, a good friend of mine live in an area in NJ affected by the notorious “Mount Laurel” decision, allowing higher density housing. The effects were not felt till a few years ago, when in a period of less than 10 years, his annual taxes went from under $6,000/year, to over $12,000/year, and rising still. He had to move. The reason is the constant widening of roads, construction of schools, added water and sewer lines, all paid being paid for by the taxpayers.
After attending local community meetings, I well know that trying to legalize an “illegal unit” is a lost cause here. In NYC, the code enforecement officer is not the guy that could help me, but the folks on the community board, and “buildings dept” that has to approve the plans and variances.
Here, the law requires notification of neighbors in a certain radius on “variance” hearings, so it’s not a question of my schmoozing a “code enforecement” guy". I get letter for such hearings myself when nieghbors file for varainces.
Being selfish, I know I would oppose neighbors adding units to their properties, because of limited parking, plus tax issues. Conversely, I don’t expect my neighbors to embrace any variances for my having three rental units in an area zoned for two. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right??
And you might ask what I did on the citation for my “illegal” kitchen. Expeditors I sonsulted here said I have to file plans to remove it. So, I decided to be more creative.
OK, so I filed plans to have a “bar” in it’s place. Basically keeping the kitchen cabints where they are, and replacing the kitchen sink with a bar sink. And I’m supposed to reomve the gas connection coming out of the wall. The connection is still there, though the nice inspector certified it was removed.
They turned me down at first, but I argued that I have a “constitional right” to a have a “bar” in my house, and I’m even nice enough to file plans for a bar. And I can’t have a bar because it’s not a million dollar mansion???
Well, there’s nothing in the code that says I can’t ahve a bar, or even what a bar looks like. OK, so mine’s look like a kitchen!! So they approved it.
Basically, all someone who wants the kitchen is to put in a larger sink, and run to the local “PC Richards” here and buy a stove.
So, if you want to know how I get around zoning, I replace a kitchen sink with a bar sink, and I had to go through the BS of hiring a licensed architect to file plans, some thousands dollars more to have the plans filed, and approved, with permits and so forth. Still, less trouble, and cheaper than messing around with community variance hearings.
And for my troubles, I got a legalize BAR, with plans on file.
So, Let’s drink to that.