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Zoning question regarding easements and minimum property setback measurments

Sig

Experienced Member
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25 September 2000
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Tyson's Corner, VA
Here's the scenario:
-A home sits on an R1 zone, where sideyard setbacks are a minimum of 20 ft.
-There is also a 35 foot wide access easement in place for a common driveway running down the left side of the property that allows access to another parcel behind the lot. The property with the home in question is a rectangular 1 acre lot with the short sides as the front and rear property line.

1) To build an addition to this home on the same side as the driveway easement, could one build all the way up to the easement line which is 35 feet from the property line?

2) Or, can you only build up to 55 feet from the property line which adds the setback minimum (20 ft for sideyard) to 35 foot easement?

In other words, are easements and setbacks additive or is only the larger of the two measurements relevant when building an addition to a home?
 
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You're forgetting option 3:

3) specific setback for access easement.

Here's a generic but correct answer: check with the city, as the answer will vary.
 
Here's the scenario:
-A home sits on an R1 zone, where sideyard setbacks are a minimum of 20 ft.
-There is also a 35 foot wide access easement in place for a common driveway running down the left side of the property that allows access to another parcel behind the lot. The property with the home in question is a rectangular 1 acre lot with the short sides as the front and rear property line.

1) To build an addition to this home on the same side as the driveway easement, could one build all the way up to the easement line which is 35 feet from the property line?

2) Or, can you only build up to 55 feet from the property line which adds the setback minimum (20 ft for sideyard) to 35 foot easement?

In other words, are easements and setbacks additive or is only the larger of the two measurements relevant when building an addition to a home?

Setbacks and easments are separate and not additive. Their location can overlap, or not. Setbacks are imposed by zoning or city ordinance, whereas easements are legally recorded instruments that convey certain property rights to others (e.g. an easement for underground utilities, or overhead power lines, etc.) You need a boundary survey of the land to determine precisely where the easements are before building. Setbacks, on the other hand, usually start at the property line. An easement can be located anywhere and can easily cross over a setback area.

I'm an architect, so I deal with these issues all the time.
 
Setbacks and easments are separate and not additive.

Thanks for the feedback. That's the conclusion that seemed the most logical to me. I called the county's zoning hotline earlier today and spoke with a woman about this situation. Her response echoed yours.

The end result, I am feeling pretty good because this means I will have enough room to build the addition to the home (which will include a garage and new master bedroom suite above it).
 
I know you already know this, but don't make the mistake of proceeding with construction without approved plans and a property/real estate law attorney reviewing your plans to make sure you are on solid ground. A mistake could be very costly.
 
I know you already know this, but don't make the mistake of proceeding with construction without approved plans and a property/real estate law attorney reviewing your plans to make sure you are on solid ground. A mistake could be very costly.

Great point and I absolutely agree. Depending on locality, I guess some folks can get away with doing additions without the guv'ment knowing the difference. Around here that's not really an option even if I wanted to go down that path.

I am probably at least 12 months out from starting any type of work. I will probably start planning with architects and gc's in the fall of this year though. Proper permitting and approvals are definitely requirements before I would even consider starting work.
 
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