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Jurisdictional Assistance

Rezonings
In some cases, our site analysis and master planning work reveals a need to change the zoning classification of a property. This typically occurs when you want to exceed the density for your current zoning though it’s also sometimes needed because the zoning of your property wasn’t updated with other properties in the area. When this happens, we can assist you in preparing a rezoning package, moving it through the required municipal + public reviews and presenting it to the zoning board.

Many rezonings are handled by zoning attorneys. We add value to the process because we know the rezoning process but we also know the of effects of conditions discussed or imposed by the zoning board. While your zoning attorney might have to ask for a continuance to the next meeting (often a month away) to investigate the issues, we can potentially expedite the process by offering an immediate response to questions and comments since we have a detailed understanding of the zoning ordinance, building code and design options: what we do every day!

We’re happy to work with you, your zoning attorney (we’ve referred clients to zoning attorneys before) and other members of the project team to make your effort a success. In most cases, we can get a preliminary estimate of our chance of success by working with the zoning staff before you go to the time and expense of the entire process.

Variances
A variance is a requested deviation from a zoning ordinance, building code or other regulation. Sometimes our site analysis will reveal the need for a variance when we discover a corner of a building over a setback or some other issue that must be legally corrected before additional work can be done. In some cases, municipalities have adopted average setbacks or other tools that frequently require a variance to establish the rules for your project. In other cases, our proposed work will necessitate a variance so one issue doesn’t prevent an entire project. In any event, we can assist you in development, submittal and reviews of your variance request.

Historic Preservation Commission Submittals & Presentations
Historic preservation commissions have the difficult task of balancing preservation and progress. Many people jokingly refer to historical preservation as “hysterical preservation” because some groups seem to be fighting progress rather than focusing on preservation. When this effort is out of balance, preservation and maintenance are prevented by cost and bureaucracy.

It’s important to have a dedicated advocate who understands the importance of meeting the spirit of the historic preservation committee charter without arresting the progress of Owners. We work to find innovative solutions that satisfy all parties and we serve as advocates for Owners going through the historic preservation commission process.

Home Owners Association Submittals & Presentations
Many home owner associations have their own architecture control committee (ACC) that reviews proposed projects to insure they will not diminish the value of neighboring properties. The ACC regulations are typically in addition to the zoning ordinance, building codes and other local municipal requirements. The challenge of most ACCs is they’re composed of people who have little or no construction expertise so they tend to make decisions based on their perception of aesthetics. This can bring its own set of challenges because some people can’t easily read two-dimensional drawings like plans and elevations.

To keep your ACC from being a stumbling block, we can assist you in developing a package for submittal. This might include more than just two-dimensional drawings and we’re happy to speak with ACCs because they’re generally happy that you want to improve the value of your property and they like having an Architect who can provide candid answers to their questions. Our Owners also like to have someone who can push the ACC to grant the approval that you’ve earned by right.

Permit Assistance
As building codes have become more and more sophisticated, jurisdictions have responded by requiring more elaborate drawings, affidavits, product data and other supporting information to insure your project complies with the regulations. Economic conditions have crippled municipalities’ ability to pay for building code training for their officials and there are fewer staff members trying to do more with less. The result of these challenges is that we can often call a permit staff member and get the requirements for a permit, hang up, call back and speak with another permit staff member who gives a divergent set of requirements.

We prefer to walk our permit applications though the process to insure the timely and reasonable review of the application. Permit applications typically move through various departments whose staff are often calmed to encounter a registered architect who can present an overview and answer questions. This can be much less expensive than the iterative shuttle diplomacy that results when permit staff refuse an application unnecessarily: we’ve literally taken a permit application refused when an Owner submitted it and walked it through with no changes.

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