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I have been wanting to build a 30x50 workshop with a 15x50 lean to. That equals out to 2250 sq.ft. My house sits on 2.35 acres and is 2850 sq.ft. Similar lots, are approx. the same size. I live in the city of Olive Branch, MS and according to their zoning, all of the detached buildings can't be more than 50% of the sq.ft. of the house. So, there goes my dream workshop out the door. But, one of the ladies at city hall told me that I can apply for a zoning variance. I got all of the paper work done, such as the maps, mailing labels to notify the neighbors within 500' of my property. I started to fill out the zoning variance application and there are 4 questions that I am trouble answering truthfully and am needing help trying to find a good answer. The more I read into the questions, the more troubled (confused) I get. For me, the questions are worded like I am the bad guy and why should the rules be changed for me and no one else. My goodness, I did not think my building size would be out of place with the size of my house sitting on 2.35 acres, but apparently to the city it is. Below are the questions that I need help with, if anyone would like to chime in with suggested answers, please do so!

1) Identify the special conditions and/or circumstances that are unique to your property, necessitating the variance, that are not generally present on other lands, structures, or
buildings in the same district.

2) Explain how the special conditions and/or circumstances present do not result from your own actions.

3) Explain how the literal interpretation of the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance deprive you of the rights commonly enjoyed by other properties in the same district.

4) Explain how granting the variance will not confer upon you and special privileges that are otherwise denied by the Ordinance to the same properties in the same district.

The workshop is going to be used to house my 2520, woodworking, metal fabrication, automotive work and storage. The lean to will house my tractor implements, firewood and a couple of trailers.

I got so damn mad last night, I told my wife to start looking for somewhere else to live! If it comes down to it, I will move. I probably have only 20yrs left on this earth and dag nabit, I want my damn shop the way I want it and not some freakin city!!!
 

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I have been wanting to build a 30x50 workshop with a 15x50 lean to. That equals out to 2250 sq.ft. My house sits on 2.35 acres and is 2850 sq.ft. Similar lots, are approx. the same size. I live in the city of Olive Branch, MS and according to their zoning, all of the detached buildings can't be more than 50% of the sq.ft. of the house. So, there goes my dream workshop out the door. But, one of the ladies at city hall told me that I can apply for a zoning variance. I got all of the paper work done, such as the maps, mailing labels to notify the neighbors within 500' of my property. I started to fill out the zoning variance application and there are 4 questions that I am trouble answering truthfully and am needing help trying to find a good answer. The more I read into the questions, the more troubled (confused) I get. For me, the questions are worded like I am the bad guy and why should the rules be changed for me and no one else. My goodness, I did not think my building size would be out of place with the size of my house sitting on 2.35 acres, but apparently to the city it is. Below are the questions that I need help with, if anyone would like to chime in with suggested answers, please do so!

1) Identify the special conditions and/or circumstances that are unique to your property, necessitating the variance, that are not generally present on other lands, structures, or
buildings in the same district.

2) Explain how the special conditions and/or circumstances present do not result from your own actions.

3) Explain how the literal interpretation of the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance deprive you of the rights commonly enjoyed by other properties in the same district.

4) Explain how granting the variance will not confer upon you and special privileges that are otherwise denied by the Ordinance to the same properties in the same district.

The workshop is going to be used to house my 2520, woodworking, metal fabrication, automotive work and storage. The lean to will house my tractor implements, firewood and a couple of trailers.

I got so damn mad last night, I told my wife to start looking for somewhere else to live! If it comes down to it, I will move. I probably have only 20yrs left on this earth and dag nabit, I want my damn shop the way I want it and not some freakin city!!!
My suggestion would be to move to Florida. I've gone in to the county offices to check on permits required for several projects I've done and have been told I didn't need any. As long as I don't take any dirt off the property I can pretty much do what I want. Out here in the country anyway. When we lived by the beach ( in the same county) we needed a permit for everything.
 

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First, sorry for the challenges with the city. First, find out if variances are transferable to the next owner. A friend my mine near retirement is trying to sell his home of 20+ years. When new, he put a "mother-in-law" mobile home on his property using an approved varience, and discovered that the mobile home must be moved before he can sell his house. If that is the case, my recommendation would be to build a building that is 49.9% of your home size, as varian. A 1424 sq ft workshop is still a nice size building (a 48'x30 metal building is usually 47'x30 in actual sq. feet) and would house everything you mention. Then, get the variance for the lean-to only.
 

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For me, the questions are worded like I am the bad guy and why should the rules be changed for me and no one else.
As someone that sits on a Zoning Board of Appeals, I can assure you that there is no intent to make you the "bad guy".

I don't know about MS but up here in MA, the city/towns create the zoning ordinances. Ordinances = laws. People are expected to follow laws as written. The zoning variance process is intended to allow for situations where it isn't possible to meet those ordinances. But we (here in MA anyway) don't have the authority to approve a variance just because the landowner wants to. That's what those questions are about.

Those questions are asking you if there is something unique about your property that prevents you from complying with the law. It is pretty much impossible to answer them in any way that would allow you to build a building that exceeds the permitted size. Unless you have an extremely permissive ZBA, I don't see how it would get approved no matter what you answer.

I'd recommend you find yourself a copy of your local zoning bylaws and study them a bit. Figure out what is/isn't allowed and you *might* find a way around the problem.

For example, in my town, we have an ordinance that is similar to the one you are running into. In my case, a "detached accessory building" can't exceed the sq. ft. of the primary residence. But if I wanted to build a building that *was* larger, I could do it as an addition to the existing house. So I'd design my new building and put a 10' x 10' sunroom between it and the existing house to connect the two. If I did that, it isn't a "detached" accessory building any more so that part of the law no longer applies.
 

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How many neighbors do you actually have located within 500 feet of your property? And, are you on friendly terms with all of them?

If there are just a few and they all like you then you might get no resistance to your variance request. On the other hand, if for some reason there is some bad blood, you might really be better off moving to the country to get the building you want.

The city might have hard asses in charge, in which case you'll lose. Only you know about your local government. If the government has reasonable people, they could grant your wish if you present them with formal plans showing that the planned structure will look acceptable in the neighborhood, and will not negatively affect things like water runoff, the sewer system, and such.

Hire an architect with a history of dealing with your local government before you go much further. You may think that you don't need an architect for a workshop and shed, but a good one can really smooth the path in a situation like you describe. And, will be able to present your case without the emotions that will surface if you go it alone.
 

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How many neighbors do you actually have located within 500 feet of your property? And, are you on friendly terms with all of them?

If there are just a few and they all like you then you might get no resistance to your variance request. On the other hand, if for some reason there is some bad blood, you might really be better off moving to the country to get the building you want.

The city might have hard asses in charge, in which case you'll lose. Only you know about your local government. If the government has reasonable people, they could grant your wish if you present them with formal plans showing that the planned structure will look acceptable in the neighborhood, and will not negatively affect things like water runoff, the sewer system, and such.

Hire an architect with a history of dealing with your local government before you go much further. You may think that you don't need an architect for a workshop and shed, but a good one can really smooth the path in a situation like you describe. And, will be able to present your case without the emotions that will surface if you go it alone.

According to the city's website map, I have (I think, will have to look again), about 8 owners the city will have to contact. As far as I know, I am on friendly terms will all of them. Some, I haven't met before. There is a large ditch, 8' deep x 20' wide on the backside of my property w/trees lining it, so I am not in contact with those people.

The ladies at city hall said that the city usually grants most of the variances, but I can't see how, according to the questions. That is what my hangup is right now. If I am truthful, I see no possible way of the variance getting granted. I am not good at all by stretching the truth and just need help stretching the answers on the 4 questions.
 

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Maybe the people at your city hall will let you look at other applications that have been approved. I would assume these are open records and that you just need to know what to ask for.

Then you'll have examples of how others answered these successfully.
 

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1) Identify the special conditions and/or circumstances that are unique to your property, necessitating the variance, that are not generally present on other lands, structures, or buildings in the same district.
Your existing utility space is not sufficient to the enjoyment of your hobbies, wants, and needs for storage of your belongings. You are not generally present on other lands, structures, or buildings in the same district - you're the smallest minority group possible: an individual.

2) Explain how the special conditions and/or circumstances present do not result from your own actions.

You didn't design or construct the house, so you couldn't have built it to comply with the ordinance while meeting your individual goals.


3) Explain how the literal interpretation of the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance deprive you of the rights commonly enjoyed by other properties in the same district.

The ordinance wouldn't prevent someone who enjoyed gardening from having utility space in excess of that which you desire, but because your hobby requires enclosed space, it's not possible for you to engage in it.


4) Explain how granting the variance will not confer upon you any special privileges that are otherwise denied by the Ordinance to the same properties in the same district.

The ability to develop your parcel as you see fit has no bearing on what anyone else should choose to do with their property. There is no special preference possible when government is merely asked to refrain from interfering with the land owners pursuit of happiness.



This is the approach I would take if it were my application. The ordinance is there to keep a certain "feel" to the area. You're not changing that by adding an industrial complex in a rural district, you're simply adding a barn to a lot that's certainly large enough to accommodate one should the powers that be feel so inclined to grant you the permission to do so.

When I built my shop, we were limited to 1500sf of "utility space" and our attached garage was included in that volume. I ended up right up against the other stipulation of 25% lot usage for buildings, so the total utility space issue was moot when it came down to it in the end. I would've needed a variance of both the utility space and the lot usage and I don't have any reason to believe they would've granted that level of deviation from the building ordinance. The 1500sf limit was enacted when a couple people built garages well in excess of the size of their houses and their neighbor's got pissy about it claiming it ruined their "neighborhood".

Something you might consider with your narrative (make your application read like a story and getting your shop is the happy ending) is to describe how the structure will blend into the existing landscape and maybe point out some other properties in the region that have similar facilities (they can be old barns or new additions). You want it to seem like you're just doing what everyone else has done before (thus no special privilege granted in question 4).

Good luck!
 

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I hear you about wanting a nice shop before you checkout and plenty of the available time left to enjoy it.

I think you've received a number of good suggestions. I have no idea what MS is like; but try and find out if describing the space as 'garage' versus 'shop' versus 'storage' versus 'utility' has any bearing in how the Gummint wonks view your application. I assume you intend to use this for your hobbies, and not run a business out of it. If so, and if it matters to the bureaucrats; make sure they know this is for your 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'

Best of luck.
 

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You may find my suggestion to be a little over the top. But what I would do is just spend fifty bucks for a brief consult with a local lawyer who handles real estate transactions & have him/her advise you on the "wording" for the variance. Some lawyers won't even charge you. Your situation is unique to "you", but your not the first with this problem. And as said before in this thread, all you need to do is down size the workshop. It sounds like your engaging in a business in your workshop which might put this in another whole category. You say you want to live long enough to enjoy the thing, but will you live long enough to do all this project work you will be taking on?

I'm currently building a 24' x 42' workshop & storage barn for my tractors. I'm retired & the only thing I want to do is get the building done so I can clear the clutter in my garage, go to my workshop & drink a cold one now & then in peace & quiet.
 

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This stuff I hear about all the time drives me nuts! How do all you people put up with it?

You work hard all your life and are proud of your home/property that you own. But you don't really own it, do you? You have to ask permission from a group of strangers to do something on your own property?

This seems no different than the horrible Home Owners Associations I hear about.
 

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This stuff I hear about all the time drives me nuts! How do all you people put up with it?

You work hard all your life and are proud of your home/property that you own. But you don't really own it, do you? You have to ask permission from a group of strangers to do something on your own property?

This seems no different than the horrible Home Owners Associations I hear about.
coaltrain-i bet if u tried to build onto ur house of a new addition-u would have to draw a permit for it, and it would have to be checked along the way also. maybe not-but here where i live-the township had to go along with the county in 2004-the first thing they had changed was we as homeowners couldn't change out our hot water tanks without getting a certified electrician to do it for u. man-talk about a back lash of calls. so they changed that bylaw for now here.

it's all about money--and taxes too. i can't remember the correct word for when a person who had to come out to check as the building went along:dunno:eek:h-yeah u paid every time they came out to check it. i think the fire insurance companies was in on it too. too protect themselves.
 

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This stuff I hear about all the time drives me nuts! How do all you people put up with it?

You work hard all your life and are proud of your home/property that you own. But you don't really own it, do you? You have to ask permission from a group of strangers to do something on your own property?

This seems no different than the horrible Home Owners Associations I hear about.
I'm with you CT. Stuff like this is why I live outside of any city limits. I'm only about 5 miles out, close enough to go in any time I want but don't have to put up with this kind of BS.

AFAIK my county has no limitations or restrictions on any thing except septic systems. I've lived here over 30 years and have built multiple buildings, even set up a mobile home next door to me once for my dad to stay in for a while, and have never even had to contact the county about anything. And they certainly know about it, 'cause the tax appraisers are always out looking and anything new will be on my appraisal the next year without my telling them. :laugh:
 

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coaltrain-i bet if u tried to build onto ur house of a new addition-u would have to draw a permit for it, and it would have to be checked along the way also. maybe not-but here where i live-the township had to go along with the county in 2004-the first thing they had changed was we as homeowners couldn't change out our hot water tanks without getting a certified electrician to do it for u. man-talk about a back lash of calls. so they changed that bylaw for now here.

it's all about money--and taxes too. i can't remember the correct word for when a person who had to come out to check as the building went along:dunno:eek:h-yeah u paid every time they came out to check it. i think the fire insurance companies was in on it too. too protect themselves.
What a stoopid ordinance. Good luck enforcing it too. If you show up on my property taking a legal/law enforcement position and you don't have a warrant you will be told to leave..if not I will process a trespass order against you as a citizen, badge or otherwise. What I do in my house is absolutely NONE of anyone else's business.

We have an ordinance about unregistered vehicles being parked on your property. I had a second wheelchair accessible van for my son that we weren't ready to part with. When the local cop pulled into the driveway I was polite and asked him if I could help him. He reminded me of the ordinance and I asked him how he knew the vehicle wasn't registered. He said that he walked around the back and saw there was no plate. When I asked to see his warrant for searching my property he got a little bit defensive.

I asked him if he knew what my "driveway rule" was to which he said he did not. I proceeded to tell him the rule which is: When you get to the end of the driveway you have to go either left or right. I don't care which one you choose but it is time for you to make it. I also informed him that I was letting him off with a warning THIS TIME. If he came back on my property again without invitation, warrant or probable cause OF A CRIME (ordinance infractions are not criminal) that I would process an order of trespass against him. He understood and thanked me for my time. I winked at him and said be safe, have a nice day....

No need to be rude but you should really understand your rights and never be afraid to exercise them. Rights are like muscles, if not exercised they become weak and go away...
 

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This seems no different than the horrible Home Owners Associations I hear about.
The reality is that a HOA and a town with zoning ordinances are the same thing. Either way, the larger community has some control over what you can do with your property. The only way to avoid that is to buy your property where there are no ordinances.

But, on the other side of it, lots of people in any given area want to do really, really stupid things.

I sat through a ZBA hearing Wednesday night and listed to a guy present his case for a variance to build a new 3-car garage. He wanted to build it 4 ft off the street. The town's zoning ordinance requires a 50 ft setback. He has the land to meet the ordinance but doesn't want to. His objection was that there was already a clearing where he wants to build. In order to meet the setback requirement he'd have to have some trees cut down and he was claiming that the expense of having the trees removed is "excessive".

How the heck does someone safely back out of their garage when their driveway is only 4 ft long? And his "excessive cost" was $800. When you are building a $70,000 garage, an additional $800 cost isn't excessive. There was no way that guy was getting a variance.
 

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I'm with you CT. Stuff like this is why I live outside of any city limits. I'm only about 5 miles out, close enough to go in any time I want but don't have to put up with this kind of BS.

AFAIK my county has no limitations or restrictions on any thing except septic systems. I've lived here over 30 years and have built multiple buildings, even set up a mobile home next door to me once for my dad to stay in for a while, and have never even had to contact the county about anything. And they certainly know about it, 'cause the tax appraisers are always out looking and anything new will be on my appraisal the next year without my telling them. :laugh:
That's about the same here. I just build what I want. Now if I were building a new house I am sure I would need a permit for something like that.

I did meet the local tax assessor many years ago when I first moved to this area. I asked him about building and also about having livestock. He said I was zoned "rural" and can do just about anything I want.

Big Jim - way back when I was in the HVAC business in a big city, they had rules like you said - only a licensed contractor could install a water heater and stuff like that. They actually had people who would hang out at the supply houses. If they saw Joe homeowner buy a water heater and follow him - then fine them if they saw him bring it into his basement. The plumbing business in thay city was akin to a mafia operation.
 

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...the first thing they had changed was we as homeowners couldn't change out our hot water tanks without getting a certified electrician to do it for u. man-talk about a back lash of calls. so they changed that bylaw for now here.
That's State law here in MA. Homeowners can't (legally) replace ANY plumbing fixture themselves. If I want to replace the faucet on my kitchen sink, I'm supposed to call a licensed plumber. I've even seen a few complaints from a few plumbers that they want the law changed to prohibit stores from selling plumbing fixtures to anyone that doesn't have a license. Now there are rumblings about the electricians trying to do the same sort of thing.
 

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I have been wanting to build a 30x50 workshop with a 15x50 lean to. That equals out to 2250 sq.ft. My house sits on 2.35 acres and is 2850 sq.ft. Similar lots, are approx. the same size. I live in the city of Olive Branch, MS and according to their zoning, all of the detached buildings can't be more than 50% of the sq.ft. of the house.
Have an enclosed walkway going from the house to the garage. Tell them it's going to be a living room.
 

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That's State law here in MA. Homeowners can't (legally) replace ANY plumbing fixture themselves. If I want to replace the faucet on my kitchen sink, I'm supposed to call a licensed plumber. I've even seen a few complaints from a few plumbers that they want the law changed to prohibit stores from selling plumbing fixtures to anyone that doesn't have a license. Now there are rumblings about the electricians trying to do the same sort of thing.
I'm not trying to be argumentative, but that is just crazy. So I can't even change a faucet myself in my own house......

I just don't see the purpose of this I guess. I mean so what if I screw it up and flood my kitchen or something - it is MY house.
 
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