Zoning variance, board of appeals hearing, Approved ! 2 for 2 LONG - Posted by Perry IL

Posted by Laure on May 18, 2000 at 20:42:49:

Good luck. You know where I am. I’d love to see what you’re up to. Maybe I’ll take a day off and drive down. uh, when my rehab is done. hehehe

Laure :slight_smile:

Zoning variance, board of appeals hearing, Approved ! 2 for 2 LONG - Posted by Perry IL

Posted by Perry IL on May 18, 2000 at 02:33:16:

Appeared before the local city zoning board to petition the zoning board for variances on 2 seperate properties requiring extensive rehabs. Approval was granted on all requested items.

FYI, Several steps are involved in the process and are as follows:

Obtain a copy of the building code requirements for clairification on what rehab tasks can be performed without a zoning variance, and on what can not be done unless a variance is granted, from the code enforcement officer at city hall. An example might be such as, section 11-7-7, paragraphs a,b,c,d,e.

Apply for a building permit. In my case I got one before I got a variance.

Pay a fee ($35) to the code enforcement officer for a classified ad in the local paper that is a legal notice to the public, informing them of the particulars such as the hearing date, hearing location, purpose of the hearing, property description, etc. Needs to be published 3 times and has to be published no farther out than 30 days from the hearing date and published no closer than 15 days from the hearing date.

The farther out one publishes the notice the less likely the public is to respond, as people have busy lives these days and either forget to go or have scheduling conflicts that prevent them from attending.

Research any and all property owners that are located within a 150’ radius, of the outer most points of the property in question. Streets and alleys are not included in the 150’ radius and those widths must be accounted for (subtracted) when determining what properties fall into the 150’ radius. The tax assessor’s office can provide plats of the adjoining blocks so that one can determine the proper distances to the land owners that have to be contacted.

The tax assessor’s office provided me with the names and addresses of all owners. The books that I used to research the legal land owners names and addresses out of, were not as current as their computer records were, and it is imperative to cross reference this list so that all legal record holders are contacted within the proper time frame.

Do not miss anyone. I discovered a person had moved because a letter was returned due to an expired forwarding address, and the assessor’s book records failed to reflect this person’s new address. I hand carried a letter to the property owner and made numerous trips to their house, all in vain. I stuck the letter in the storm door and it was gone the next day. This is when I stopped trusting the record books and began to cross reference them on the computers. The code enforcement officer didn’t make an issue out of this as the courthouse records were at fault.

One major setback was when I appeared at my original hearing and not enough board members were present, resulting in a postponement of the hearing for another month due to a lack of a quorum. Some board members failed to call in their absence to this first meeting. Irresponsible.

I was asked if all property owners were contacted and did I have proof of the same, at the hearing by a member of the zoning board. 2 people refused to sign the certified letters and I had to provide that proof as well.

Mail out certified letters, return receipt requested, to all of them, within the same 15 day to 30 day window as the newspaper ad. These run about $3.00 a piece. One property required 28 letters and the other property required 27 letters. When the receipts are returned to oneself, they are then to be turned in to the code enforcement officer giving proof to the fact that the neighbors / land owners have been contacted / notified of the upcoming hearing.

In my case I was granted a building permit “prematurely” by the code enforcement officer, as I felt that the planned rehab was beyond the scope of the city building code. The code is vague and ambiguous at times. Serves as a guideline.
The code enforcement officer recommended that I consult the city attorney for clarification. It took 6 or 7 trips to the attorney’s office over 2 weeks time to actually pin him down and get his undivided attention in order to get him to render an opinion.

His recommendation was that I would need a variance because (a) my lot size was less than the standard square footage required (5,000 sq. ft. for a single family dwelling,) and (b) I was asking for a 3’ setback at the rear lot line (his opinion), and © I wanted to enclose the front porch in order to expand the living room and the kitchen, which was going to set a precedent for the block because it was the closest physical structure to the front lot line and anyone else could then petition to build out as far as I did.

Even though an existing structure was already there, I was expanding onto what was considered a substandard lot.

In this case I had a triangular shaped lot with no rear lot line. The left front corner was a 90 degree angle with frontage of 85’ and a left side lot line of 75’. The “other” side lot line ran diagonally from the rear most point of the left side lot line, to the farthest point away and to the right of the front lot line.

The attorney deemed the diagonal lot line, as the rear lot line until it passed the rear plane of the house, at which time he declared it as the side lot line. This meant that I couldn’t build within 20’ of this line. My house was already within 10’of this lot line. I needed to go as close to the right side lot line as possible, and in the case of a substandard lot, the code allows a 3’ setback without getting a zoning variance.

My interpretation of the code stated that I could build to within 3’ of the side lot line on a substandard lot. A substandard lot was defined as a lot having a width of less than 45’. The stickler here was that my lot was 85’ wide at the front lot line and 0’ wide at the rear most point of my lot, which is the juncture of both, the right diagonal side lot line and the left side lot line.

Have your act together. Have all of the zoning board members questions answered by your oral petition / presentation, and any other questions answered by the facts and figures in your handouts that are given to each board member, prior to the hearing.

The handouts should give dimensions of existing exterior wall lines, and proposed additions as well. A plat of survey is an excellent document to have as it is accurate and legal. I listed the benefits of the rehab. I gave each board member the attorney’s letter and his recommendations as well.

Have enough handouts for members of the audience as well. It shows cooperation even to those that may speak out against your request, and shows the board members that you are willing to inform everyone of your intentions, which allows the public an opportunity to make an informed decision as well. It’s a goodwill gesture.

In my case 2 individuals came to my first hearing. One person was unsure as to what the certified letter actually meant, and the other person was concerned because a garage encroached upon her property by a distance of over 2’. I planned to tear this garage down because of this (cloud on the title ?) and it was viewed as a goodwill gesture by all present. Adverse possession allowed the garage to remain where it was built, but this created ill will that wasn’t worth the hassle with the neighbor. How do I maintain it ?
Tresspass on the neighbor’s property to paint or repair it ?

The second hearing was attended by a married couple and their concern was if I would drag the project out for an extended period of time in my rehab efforts.

This second property was of a more traditional shape, (rectangular) and was also a substandard lot in that it was less than 5,000 sq. ft. in overall size. It was a corner lot so I had to have a variance because of my request to go within 3’ of the property line, on the right side lot line, that has a street parallel to it. A corner lot is treated as if it has 2 front yards. The setback is to be 25’ in the front and 25’ to the side that has the street. In my case my building is within 6’ of the property line and I asked to expand to within 3’ of the property line, as a substandard lot allows this 3’ setback. However, a corner lot requires that a variance be approved to build within 3’ of the street side lot line.

Bottom line is, I am allowed to build to within 3’ of all side lot lines on both of my properties, per the zoning variance. I am allowed to expand the walls / rooms outward on substandard size lots as proposed, per the zoning variance. I am allowed to enclose all porches, including one that could be viewed as setting a precedent in the block that it is located in, per the zoning variance.

Doing everything by the book the way I was supposed to, and doing it when I was supposed to, aided in getting the requested zoning variances approved. Doing my homework and having ample, concise handouts helped as well.

Now I can petition lenders with confidence. I have my proverbial act together.

PS I had an “as is” appraisal and a “subject to repairs completed” appraisal (based on the proposed rehab plans of both properties,) in hand prior to appearing before the zoning board. I informed the board of the as is and fixed up values of the properties. Was it helpful ? I’m not sure. It will speed up the time that it takes to get my loan package into the lender’s hands.

Thanks, Perry, IL.

Bravo!!! - Posted by ray@lcorn

Posted by ray@lcorn on May 18, 2000 at 13:33:27:


Thank you for posting such a detailed and inspiring story. As both a real estate investor/developer and planning commissioner, I have for years attempted to open people’s eyes to the opportunity that waits for those who learn how to work the system. You have crossed an important bridge in your career. I wish you all the best as you prosper!

One note to those reading about Perry’s experience; the details of the process he described could be in slightly different fashion in other jurisdictions across the country. Land use ordiances and procedures are locality specific, and while each are guided by state codes, the states themselves differ widely in their processes. So your local town or county may have different ways of doing the same thing, and I just don’t want anyone to be confused if what they run into is radically different than the process Perry described.

The outcome however, is the same. Once you learn how the system works, and how to use the system to your advantage, then it just becomes a matter of pushing the right buttons to create opportunity.

Let’s give a big “atta boy!” to Perry, and thanks again for posting.


Re: Zoning variance, board of appeals hearing, Approved ! 2 for 2 LONG - Posted by Laure

Posted by Laure on May 18, 2000 at 04:20:20:

Wow… sounds like a lot of work ! Good luck on the rehab.

Laure :slight_smile:

Ray, your welcome. Why yes there was quite a learning curve. - Posted by Perry IL

Posted by Perry IL on May 18, 2000 at 19:06:36:


First let me say that I appreciate your kudos, and I don’t mind taking credit for the fact that I was successful in getting the zoning boards’ approval for my petitions.

I used the very technique taught to me at the lenders workshop, which is to get lenders fighting to give you money, and that lesson was, to answer all of the questions that I could answer, from the zoning board, BEFORE they asked them of me. And, doing my due diligence as well.

It is also akin to seeing the upside potential of a given property. In the case of both of the properties that I am rehabbing, quite frankly, they were not ideal candidates for turning a handsome profit in the purchase phase. The adage make your money when you buy was not part of the equation or strategy. Realizing that this buying flaw existed, I am trying to put the best face on what is a less than desireable situation.

I will triumph over the flaws and inequities of both these properties with shear will power and tenacity. I recognize that both these qualities would be better utilized on more desireable pieces of real estate, however all things being equal, that is not my reality at this point in time.

Property # 1 is a 400 sq. ft., wooden framed, single story, 1 bedroom, 1 bath bungalow, with a value as is, and in a gutted state, of a mere $ 8,000. It is free and clear. With $ 25,000 in materials, and doing most of the labor myself, I will drive the value up to $ 58,000, according to my extra conservative appraiser / auditor-appraiser.

The home when finished will be a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, compact home with 1,050 sq. ft. Comparables are selling for $ 65,000 to $ 78,000 in the local market. I expect to get more than the appraised value of $ 58,000. I feel that it will bring $ 69,000.

Property # 2 is a story and a half, wooden framed, 3 bedroom, 1 bath, single family residence, with 1,200 sq. ft. The as is value came in at $ 33,000. Upon completion of all repairs, the home will be a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, sfr, with 2,700 sq. ft. A pantry, 9’ X 15’, can be used as a 4th bedroom, and a 15’ X 18’ family room, in the basement, with a half bath can be the 5th bedroom. So…a 3 bedroom, 1 bath, will be a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath home, and will include an additional 1,500 sq. ft. Once again my ultra conservative appraiser came up with a figure of $ 89,000. Comparables are going for $ 110,000 to $ 120,000 for like equipped homes in my area. I expect the home to sell for $ 109,000.

OK, the zoning problem is solved. Next ! On to getting the rehab funds. Thanks for the input Ray. Perry IL.

It was…and it is. - Posted by Perry IL

Posted by Perry IL on May 18, 2000 at 18:15:29:

Hi Laure,

If I was going to pick properties to use as examples for demonstrating… how not to make money in real estate, I’m sure these properties would fit the parameters for illustrating case history on the wrong kind of properties to buy, hold, fix-up, etc.

Having said that, I am now taking chicken feathers and willing them, by shear tenacity, into chicken soup.

Yes, I bear the scares upon my back, as a price paid for the education.

I suppose if I were to describe what I would be, if I were a real estate weapon, a tank would be an apt description. A tank is an awesome weapon, yet it operates within a limited scope, in the theatre of battle.

I am rather inclined to begin morphing, into a supersonic jet fighter operating at will, with air superiority upon the modern day real estate battlefield. It’s the rocks, paper, scissors theory. Jet fighters are tank killers, etc. etc. etc.

I have completed some of the due diligence required to turn these properties around and reap a profit.

Getting them funded is the next hurdle.

Doing the repairs is next.

And finally retailing these bad mammer jammers is the last step.

So yes…there was a lot of work in getting the variances granted, and it is going to be a busy full summer rehabbing them as well.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the “ax” will be extremely sharp before I chop down the next “tree.”

Mustering up as much self depracating humor as possible, from your friend the next county over, best wishes, Perry