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Jan 03

Zoning in Three Dimensions

Posted on January 3, 2019 at 10:40 AM by Eric Knapp

A lot of what I do involves looking at two-dimensional objects, i.e. maps, plans, surveys, architectural drawings, and trying to make sense of it in three-dimensional space.  Trying to explain the concept of a "building envelope", that three dimensional space within which the building is now or is proposed to be within, to a person who does not do this for a living can be a challenge.  It is important, though, because the setbacks contained in the Zoning Regulations are not just lines on the ground.  They are imaginary vertical walls.  So, if your house already has one floor encroaching on a setback, that may be a pre-existing nonconformity.  But if you are proposing a *second* floor, over that first floor, even if it is exactly over the old footprint, it breaks more of that imaginary vertical wall and can't be approved, absent a variance. 

I'd probably be better off letting my son explain this using Sims4.  He's building houses all the time.  But zoning never seems to be an issue there.  Probably just as well.

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