Single-family home wins waiver of rear yard rule

Owner during construction was caught by Citywide text change affecting rear yard. In July 2007, the owner of 1291 Carroll Street obtained a permit from Buildings allowing renovations to an existing single-family home located in an R2 zoning district. The plan included a rear enlargement built within 30 feet of the rear lot line. On April 30, 2008, the City Council approved a Citywide zoning text amendment that eliminated from R2 zoning districts the provision that waived rear yard requirements for properties within 100 feet of an intersection. The text change rendered the owner’s home out-of-compliance with the 30-foot rear yard requirement.

Unaware of the text change, the owner continued work on the enlargement until the permit expired on March 23, 2009. Nearly three months later, Buildings concluded an audit and issued an objection stating that the enlargement was contrary to the zoning text.

Appealing to BSA, the owner argued that she was entitled to continue construction because at the time of the text change she had completed the enlargement’s structure and installed plumbing. All that remained to be done were interior finishes and the installation of exterior doors. The owner also claimed she had spent $78,940 on the enlargement and it would cost another $57,250 to redesign and reconstruct a complying enlargement.

BSA granted the appeal, finding that the owner had undertaken substantial construction, made substantial expenditures, and would suffer serious loss if required to proceed under the current zoning. BSA noted that the text change affected all low-density residential districts in the city, unlike an isolated neighborhood rezoning that would be more apparent to architects and Buildings examiners working within the area.

BSA: 1291 Carroll Street. (191-09-A) (July 28, 2009). CITYADMIN

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