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Zoning applicability according to lot size, Development rights


Registered User
Oct 11, 2017
Hi all, I don't post much, but I came accorss something that I thought was very interesting. Within a particular city zoning regulation there are different max FARs applied to properties within the exact same zone according to lot size. So for example in the same zoning district, there is a max 4.0 FAR for a smaller (70' x 125') lot and there is a max FAR of 9.0 for a larger lot (larger than 1 acre). Does anyone happen to know of any other cities that apply different FARs for the same zoning area depending on the lot size? So for example there is a max 4.0 FAR for a smaller (70' x 125') lot and there is a max FAR of 9.0 for a larger lot.

I'm curious what other people think about this. Does this happen much? And has anyone ever come across this different treatment or application of zoning regulation, depending on lot sizes within the same exact zoning area before? Are there any other cities that do this? Something just seems inherently wrong about it to me.
I own a small lot and I’m considering submitting an application with the highest FAR on the grounds that penalizing smaller lot is not legal. Anyone have any thoughts for precedents?
Thanks for the previous response.

Has anyone else come across zoning regulations that vary development rights for a zoning based on lot sizes? To me, it seems illegal to do this and ventures into a grey area. My concern is that major developers are writing the amendments to zoning and there isn’t proper scrutiny of the implications.
Interesting development. I spoke to a lawyer and she said this type of zoning statute as it is written is illegal and prohibited under state laws. She also said it goes against the 14th amendment and a few other Federal Laws.
If they are smaller lots, they may be existing nonconforming and sometimes they have different rules...
Hi Steveray, thank you for your comment. Understood about existing non-conforming lots, but this zoning is in a dense urban neighborhood so pretty much all lots are less than an acre until they are combined for large developments. The arbitrary threshold in this case is 1 acre for an urban environment. Giving extra incentives to larger lots is backwards in my opinion. It seems to me that smart zoning board would do the opposite.
Haven’t seen it for FAR, but many cities will give reduced setback requirements for smaller non conforming lots. Example: min 10’ side yard setback, or 10% of lot width on lots less than 100‘ wide.

Regarding 14th amendment: not sure how varying FARs based on lot size would violate equal protection. As long as every person has the equal right to purchase or not purchase a property based on its development potential as stated in a prescriptive zoning code, then every property buyer is treated equally.

To put it another way: if as you stated smart zoning is the opposite (incentivizing small lot owners instead of large lot owners) then under your lawyer’s same legal theory, that too would violate the 14th - - for equal protection for large property owners.

If you believe that the zoning ordinance that provided varying FARs for different sized lots was enacted improperly, then you may have to demonstrate findings for a “taking”.