Thursday, January 19, 2017

Local Socialism

I commented the following in response to a post by Jess.

To set the scene:
My son thought he'd do a house flip. He's a registered builder and a realtor.
What a nightmare.
He found a house for $10k. Opened the door and found a flooded basement with a broken pipe for who knows how long.
He rebuild a foundation wall.
Repoured the basement slab.
Thoroughly remodeled the interior.
New wiring. New High Efficiency furnace and water heater.
Removed the chimney.
Resided the exterior.
New windows and cabinetry.
New bath,
A very nice house now, it turns out it is zoned commercial, surrounded by similar houses (also zoned commercial) whose property value has gone up due to his renovation.

Comment begins:
My son is trying to get a zoning variance so that if the house he is trying to sell should burn, the new owner can rebuild as a residence, since they rezoned his property commercial as part of "The Master Plan".

If the house should burn, since it is in a commercial zoning district, there is no guarantee that he can rebuild a residence. Even though the property was a residence and is amongst other residential homes.
Pretty Kafkaesque.

Every meeting he goes to, every official he talks to refers him to the same person, who continually tells him he cannot get a variance until the house actually burns down, whereupon there is a good chance the new owner (if the new owner can actually get financed under these conditions to buy the place) will get a variance.
But the variance cannot be given in advance, and they refuse to rezone in deference to "The Master Plan".

It sounds so socialist.


  1. I was a county zoning enforcement officer, back in the day, until I wised up. Most zoning ordinances have an exclusion for "non-conforming uses": if the residence is destroyed, the owners have a period of time (usually 6 months) to reestablish the use. It only becomes "commercial only" after that period of time. A total ban against pre-existing uses is very rare.

  2. screwed w/o a 'rebuild' grandfathered in.

  3. hey ED! I hope you are feeling optimistic:) Have a blessed inaugural weekend my friend! hugsss!!

  4. It doesn't make the larger news landscape, but local government is almost always more oppressive than that on the national level.

  5. Rev and Jerry: At the suggestion of a lender friend of my son, the planner agreed to sign a letter to a prospective underwriter that in his long tenure, he has never seen a variance not granted in such a case. It's better than nothing.