Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Last Word on Those 1,500 Square Feet

On May 22, Gossips reported that the effort to amend the Schedule of Bulk and Area Regulations for Residential Districts to eliminate what was thought to be a requirement that all units (i.e., apartments) in multiple dwelling buildings in the R-4 district be a minimum of 1,500 square feet had come to an end. The previous evening, the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected former city attorney Cheryl Roberts' misinterpretation of the bulk and area regulations and accepted the opinion of their new counsel, Daniel Tucsinski:
The plain language . . . makes it applicable to LOT AREA, including total square feet required, as well as LOT AREA required per dwelling unit. Since the preceding provision does not reference or mention minimal square footage for the actual BUILDING size required for each unit, in my opinion the 6,000 square foot requirement pertains SOLELY to minimum square footage required for the lot, if multiple dwelling units are required within that lot. The 1,500 referenced per dwelling unit (square feet) pertains to the LOT AREA per unit and must be read in conjunction with the total square foot required for multiple dwellings within this district.
As part of the process, the proposed amendments were also referred to the Columbia County Planning Board. The response from the CCPB was received as a communication by the Council at the informal meeting on Monday. The CCPB found that the proposed action had "no significant county-wide or intercommunity impacts" but made the following comments about the proposed change in the required square feet for dwelling units:
The proposed amendments to the City of Hudson Schedule of Bulk and Area Regulations for Residential Districts, to remove Line #2 "Lot Area," will have the effect of changing the intent of this section of the zoning law for all zoning districts, not just the R-4. . . .
The CCPB finds that Line #2 "Lot Area:" is a heading which applies to the indented Line 3, "Total (square feet)," and indented Line 4, "Per dwelling unit (square feet)," and this establishes the minimum allowable area for a lot in each zoning district. The term "Lot Area" refers to the minimum size of a lot, as measured in square feet, that is required for each zoning district. It further establishes the minimum required area for a lot depending on the number of dwelling unit(s) situated on, or proposed to be situated on each lot.
Neither of these provisions pertains to the requirements for the size of an apartment (dwelling unit), but rather the minimum required size of a lot.
Municipalities may set forth minimum permitted floor areas for dwelling units. The Columbia County Planning Department would be a resource for examples of these types of provisions.
It turns out this is exactly what Gossips suggested was the case back in September 2013.


  1. Any sane person could see it was lot size not dwelling size. I don't know why it was ever am issue in the first place.

  2. The same type of "rule by restriction" is what has the waterfront tied up in knots and city dog owners on a short leash...