Loopholes

This page explains some of the MANY loopholes in the City’s codes which developer Dan Duffus and his partners used to try to have 3 houses in a space where only 2 should be allowed.

The City approved this 11,500 s.f. property for 3 houses. The City’s basic zoning rules say you can only have 2 houses here. That’s where the loopholes and manipulation of the code come in:

3 lots w fence  no neighbor lot Sep

Click to enlarge

All smaller than basic zoning requirements All the lots are less than the standard 5,000 square feet: roughly 4,500, 3750 and 3,300 s.f.

None of the lots are rectangles, they’re all “L” shaped to maximize height and footprint of the houses.

– The fake front yard

Lot B (the red property) has a fake front yard that only exists on paper. It makes lot B just large enough to build a 3 story house. B’s fake front yard takes up most of the land between the existing house on lot A and the street – an area any reasonable person would call A’s front yard. To get from the sidewalk to his front door, the owner of house A has to cross B’s property.

Then, the developer built a permanent fence (wood in in concrete foundations) which separates B from nearly all of its fake front yard.

The developer gets to gerrymander the lot lines to build a 3 story house on B, and still use that same land as the front yard of house A.

Other loopholes in the city code used by Duffus and Co. include:

  • The front yard is not in the front yard.
  • You can ignore the existence of decks if that helps the developer.
  • It doesn’t matter where the front of the house actually WAS, what matters is where is COULD have been.
  • A house can have its front yard “facing” a street that doesn’t even exist, except on a City plat map.
  • You can create a lot that is 25% smaller than the general zoning rules require and 20% smaller than the average lot on the block.

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