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Monday, April 24, 2017


A Key to Successful Infill Development

The first step in any successful development project is ensuring you can legally build what you are planning to build. Granted, there are measures available such as variance request where the laws and zoning regulations can be amended to build a non-conforming project, but that is often a long, tedious and expensive proposition with no guarantee of success. For that reason, my preference is to develop within the guidelines of the Zoning Code. So what does the Cincinnati zoning code regulate as it pertains to new infill projects located within the city limits? The full answer can be found in the code itself (here), but the following is a breakdown of the those regulations I view as being most important, which I have directed several friends and colleagues too in the past that have expressed interest in pursuing similar types of development opportunities.

Zoning Use Classification: The first step prior to digging into the zoning code itself is locating the parcel on a zoning map such as CAGIS to determine the existing zoning. Below is a CAGIS overlay of Oakley, which show that the the Zoning for the Oakley Home 2.0 property is the SF-4 Single Family District.

Land Use Regulations: Once it is clear what the zoning type is, you can see what uses are permitted to be developed on a site, whether that is through a change of use, renovation, addition, or new build. The permitted uses for developments in the SF-4 district where the Oakley Home 2.0 project is located include single family dwellings (which is what is being built) and attached single family dwellings. Uses such as a bed and breakfast or child day care home are also permitted, but those are subject to a conditional use variance and complying with specific limitations spelled out in the code.

Development Regulations: The last major checkpoint I look at with regards to zoning once I have determined what the zoning type and land use regulations are, are the development regulations that include property setback requirements, building height and area restrictions, and parking requirements, all of which can have a major impact on the size and scope of a proposed development. The Oakley Home 2.0 project, for example, is on a lot that is only 33'-4" wide to begin with, but with side yard setbacks needing to total 12' the actual width of the structure is limited to 21'-4" wide. Furthermore, the requirement for 2 off street parking spaces, means that in addition to the single-car garage, the driveway in front of the house must have enough space to meet the requirements for an off street parking spot. These development regulations will have a significant impact on the scale, scope, expenses and revenues associated with a project, so the sooner this due diligence can be done in developing a pro forma for the property, the better.