Minimum Lot Size Requirements

Con­trol of the dimen­si­ons of sub­di­vi­si­on lots is not limi­ted to sub­di­vi­si­on rules. Coun­try and coun­ty codes can often be used to set stan­dards for lot sizes. In New York Sta­te, Sec­tion 89 of Chap­ter 5 of the Public Health Act requi­res that befo­re divi­ding resi­den­ti­al land by ten or more fami­lies, land in the area showing pro­po­sed methods of water sup­ply and sani­ta­ti­on must be appro­ved by the Com­mis­sio­ner of Health. Regis­tra­ti­on and regis­tra­ti­on of sub­di­vi­si­on maps or plaques is only per­mit­ted with the con­sent of the health worker. In West­ches­ter Coun­ty, New York, a simi­lar pro­ce­du­re must be fol­lo­wed, even if the sub­di­vi­si­on con­sists of fewer than ten lots. Sec­tion 9 of the West­ches­ter Coun­ty Depart­ment of Health Health Code pre­scri­bes mini­mum lot size requi­re­ments in sub­di­vi­si­ons whe­re public water and sewer sys­tems are not fea­si­ble. The Code requi­res a deve­lo­per to sub­mit the pro­po­sed sub­di­vi­si­on plat­form to the Com­mis­sio­ner of Health for appro­val of pro­po­sed water, sani­ta­ti­on and drai­na­ge methods. This per­mit must be obtai­ned befo­re the land is sub­mit­ted to the local plan­ning com­mis­si­on. Whe­re water sup­ply and sani­ta­ti­on ser­vices are to be pro­vi­ded by con­nec­ting to public and public net­works, the requi­red per­mit may be indi­ca­ted without a for­mal request. Howe­ver, if indi­vi­du­al faci­li­ties are requi­red, the for­mal pro­ce­du­re must be fol­lo­wed. That‘s not to say that Boul­der and California‘s major cities face the same afforda­bi­li­ty chal­len­ges, or that chan­ging the mini­mum plot size alo­ne can alle­via­te the housing cri­sis. Rather, the most important point is that a see­min­gly minor pro­vi­si­on – hid­den in new rules moti­va­ted by the same goal of expan­ding housing opti­ons – could nevertheless lead to dif­fe­rent out­co­mes. The legal bases for the mini­mum size regu­la­ti­ons dif­fer, as do the types of regulations.

We will look at the varie­ty of mini­mum requi­re­ments that have been set – from tho­se based almost ent­i­re­ly on sani­ta­ry stan­dards to tho­se based more on amen­ities and pro­per­ty values. The­se requi­re­ments are found in buil­ding codes, mini­mum housing regu­la­ti­ons and zoning ordi­nan­ces. In gene­ral, the smal­ler mini­ma are found in mini­mum housing regu­la­ti­ons and most buil­ding codes, while the lar­ger mini­ma are found in zoning ordi­nan­ces. Meri­di­an Town­ship, Michi­gan pro­vi­des for a mini­mum num­ber of squa­re feet as fol­lows: District A, 900 squa­re feet on the ground floor; District B, 720 squa­re meters on the ground floor, and; District C, 480 squa­re meters on the ground floor. In Miami, Flo­ri­da, a mini­mum buil­ding size sli­ding sca­le has been in place for many years. Mini­mums ran­ge from 2,100 squa­re feet to 3,500 squa­re feet in the smal­lest are­as. A pro­po­sed zoning ordi­nan­ce of 1949 for Bloo­m­field Hills, Michi­gan, pro­po­ses the fol­lowing cubic foot mini­mums: Homes that wish to expand the out­door space must have an area of at least 900 squa­re feet. The rea­son for this is that the house needs enough free space on the four sur­roun­ding sides.

Recent­ly, a num­ber of cities have adop­ted mini­mum housing bylaws that set main­ten­an­ce and occup­an­cy stan­dards for exis­ting housing. Most of them set stan­dards for the mini­mum size of living rooms, as well as for floor area and cubic space in rooms used for slee­ping. Others go fur­ther and spe­ci­fy mini­ma for a varie­ty of rooms and bedroom com­bi­na­ti­ons. With the packa­ge data in hand, we then com­pa­red the actu­al size of each indi­vi­du­al packa­ge with its legal­ly requi­red mini­mum size. What we were loo­king for was an unusu­al con­cen­tra­ti­on of lots that were exact­ly or very clo­se to the legal mini­mum. Joint sto­rage requi­red for pro­per­ties under 8,000 squa­re feet by Clas­si­fi­ca­ti­on and Drai­na­ge Order The scope and scope of poli­ce power is con­stant­ly being reas­ses­sed by the courts, and the line bet­ween “appro­pria­te” and “fra­gi­le” exer­cise is shif­ting. The­re are few are­as in the zoning whe­re this line is as dan­ge­rous and sub­ject to chan­ge as in the area of mini­mum par­cel and buil­ding size requi­re­ments. This bul­le­tin will trace both the evo­lu­ti­on of pre­ce­dents and the natu­re and extent of the­se by-laws in muni­ci­pal ordinances.