Obtaining Zoning Variance to Build House with a Garage

Our real estate developer client sought to build a single-family home with a front-loading garage on a vacant lot located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. We were retained to obtain a zoning variance because a front-loading garage in this proposed building structure is not allowed by the Philadelphia Zoning Code.

After we received the Notice of Refusal issued by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I), we appealed the ruling to the City of Philadelphia’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA).

In arguing the merits of the zoning appeal, we noted that parking is not allowed on the street in front of the property and, thus, creating a curb cut in front of the property would not eliminate any available parking for the other residents. Furthermore, we emphasized the other instances on that block and other blocks within the vicinity of the property that obtained governmental approval to allow for off-street parking under similar circumstances.

After distributing the requisite written notice of the community meeting, the nearby property owners contacted us with their opposition to this real estate development project. They were concerned the erection of the proposed building structure would have a negative impact on their enjoyment of light and air to their properties.

Rather than waiting to address their concerns during our presentation of the merits of the zoning appeal in front of the community, we personally met with them and our real estate developer client.  This went a long way with them, and they elected to support this real estate development project after we answered their questions and addressed their concerns.

The remainder of the zoning variance project went by flawlessly, as we received community support, including of the property owners closest to the property. The ZBA ultimately unanimously approved the zoning variance.

I hired Alan for a zoning matter in Philadelphia. I was so impressed with him during the entire process. He was knowledgeable and always available to address all my concerns. Even with a few outside hiccups along the way he handled them in stride and my case was approved. I highly recommend Alan and I will be using him for my next project.

- Ed Massaro

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