What if my proposed house addition does not meet the Town's requirements?

Generally if a proposed addition does not meet a town's requirement, it is a problem with the Zoning regulations. A Town's Zoning regulation will have a minimum distance from a property line to the structure. A structure can include an addition to your house, a shed, a pool, barn, etc. Even if you want to extend a structure up vertically the new work must also meet the local regulations.  Occasionally the problem can be that the proposed addition may be too close to your sanitary system.  If this is the case the type of or its location may have to be changed or a portion of the sanitary system may have to be relocated.

Sometimes it is possible to obtain a variance from the zoning requirements. There is a Town Commission that can vary the zoning regulations under certain circumstances. This commission is called the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), and is separate from the Zoning Commission. To obtain a variance from the zoning regulations you need to make an application to the local ZBA. They will then hold a public hearing which is your opportunity to present your reasons why they should grant your appeal. As part of your application you will need to have an A2 Survey plan showing the existing and proposed structures, etc. This plan will also show the amount of variance(s) that you are requesting. You will generally be required to notify your abutting neighbors and those across the street. To prove your need for the variance you will need to prove a hardship. A hardship is an issue unique to your property. Typically a hardship is having steep grades, wetlands or water courses, odd shaped property, lot size, the location of existing structures that predate the zoning regulations and other issues that are unique to your property. Unique means that it is not a problem with the zoning regulations that also applies to most other properties in the same zone.

The Public Hearing:

At this hearing you present your project, what the hardships are, and why it cannot be located in a conforming area. The commissioners can be expected to ask you questions. The public will be given an opportunity to present their views both in favor and against it. Generally the ZBA will close the hearing the same night and take a vote later the same night. The ZBA can extend the hearing until a further date if they have questions that cannot be answered that night. This will allow you to present additional information. Once the hearing is closed you are not permitted to speak to the commission or present additional information. The general public also cannot speak or present any additional information. The ZBA has 65 days to make a decision but as indicated above most make a decision that same night.

Please note that you generally only have one chance to make your application. If the appeal is denied you would have to make substantial changes before re-applying.

CCA can provide the Civil Engineering, Land Surveying and other services you will need to get your project approved.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions at russellposthauer@ccaengineering.com or call 203-775-6207 and ask to speak with one of our Professional Engineers.