You Need a Setback Variance – Now What?

A setback variance is one of the most common types of variances that a property owner may need as part of a new development project. Casually referred to as “setbacks,” the minimum setback requirements are codified standards which mandate the minimum distance that a building or structure must be placed from the property line or public right-of-way. The minimum setback requirements are intended to promote safe and well-organized development, preserve the area’s aesthetic appeal, protect green spaces, and enhance the overall quality of life within the community.

Here are the specific types of setbacks that may present a zoning challenge:

Front Setback: These regulations determine the minimum distance from a building or structure to the front property line, which is usually facing a street. The purpose of front setbacks is to ensure that the street appearance remains consistent and there is enough space between buildings and sidewalks or roadways.

Rear Setbacks: Like front setbacks, rear property line regulations specify the minimum distance that a building or structure may be situated from the back of a property. These rules are designed to prevent overcrowding, provide privacy to neighboring properties, and minimize the risk of fire hazards.

Side Setbacks: The distance between a building or structure and its neighboring/side property lines is determined by side setbacks. This is done to ensure that there is enough space between adjacent buildings and structures to allow for natural light and air circulation, as well as to minimize the risk of fire spreading.

How Can an Experienced Land Use and Zoning Attorney Help? 

If your existing property or proposed development project does not meet the minimum setback requirements, a knowledgeable attorney with experience in real estate, land use, and zoning law can be a valuable asset as you seek a zoning variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Plan Commission. Here are some ways a land use or zoning attorney can help:

Evaluation: A zoning attorney can perform legal research and review the applicable regulations to understand what, if any, variances, are needed. 

Application: Successfully navigating the complex process of applying for a variance requires finesse. A zoning attorney gathers necessary documents, sets forth compelling evidence, and ensures that your case is persuasively presented to the local government.

Advocacy: A skilled zoning attorney can increase your chances of success by effectively presenting your case to the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Plan Commission. They can also address any concerns the Board, the Commission, or the neighbors may have. 

Conflict Resolution: The variance application process involves many stakeholders, such as the zoning staff, the local board or commission, and the neighboring property owners. A zoning attorney can assist with resolving potential issues throughout the process. Their objective is to create solutions that are in line with your development goals, promote harmony, and build consensus.

In conclusion, setbacks are an essential aspect of zoning regulations, ensuring a harmonious and safe built environment. However, setbacks can sometimes pose challenges. In such cases, it is advisable to seek the guidance of an experienced zoning attorney who can assist you in the variance process by advocating for your interests and striving to achieve a favorable outcome.

If you have questions about setback requirements or how to obtain a variance, we’d love to hear from you! You can reach us at 

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. It is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. The information provided here does not create, and receipt of it does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon this information without seeking advice from an attorney licensed in your state or country