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Old November 18th, 2004, 03:01 PM   #1
miamicanes
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Miami zoning laws

For anyone who's intimately familiar with Miami zoning, here are a few questions that I suspect the folks at the zoning department really wouldn't like to be put in a position of having to answer...

The zoning code says that a required yard must be free of any permanent structures from 42" above sidewalk height and above. Does that mean that you can legally build anything you want, right up to the side and rear property lines and base building line, as deep as you can afford or achieve, as long as no part of it lies more than 42" above sidewalk height within what would otherwise be a required yard or setback? Even in, say, a residential neighborhood?

Just to give an acid-case hypothetical, could someone legally dig a 20 foot deep hole right up to the property line in a single-family neighborhood and build a rectangular concrete donut that's 10 feet wide, 20 feet deep, and 42" high (relative to sidewalk level)? Or is there some hidden building code or law incorporated by reference that actually gives the city the power to say "no" to something like that?

Related to that, how do subterran structures factor into footprint calculations? Would it make a difference if the structure were entirely below ground and had a foot of dirt (landscaped) backfilled over it?

Or... the matter of fences and perimeter walls, which are allowed to hug the property line as long as they don't exceed 8' high or encroach into a visibility triangle. When does a structure that's substantially open to the free flow of light and air stop being a fence and become a structure subject to setbacks (like, say, a screened pool enclosure)? For instance, is a chainlink fence dog kennel a fence or a structure (assuming the top is still less than 8' above sidewalk height)? How about a steel fence with similar steel bars? OK, then how small can you make the mesh before it becomes a "pool enclosure" (sans pool), which IS considered by the zoning department to be a structure and not a fence? Is it the height (above 8') that matters, the presence of anything resembling a top, or some other magic factor?
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Old November 19th, 2004, 05:35 AM   #2
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wow, those r some crazy deep questions, i doubt very much any1 at city of miami zoning has the competence to give u any good answers
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Old November 19th, 2004, 05:43 AM   #3
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Why do we drive on Parkways and park in Driveways?

The 42" question has been befuddling rectangular donut builders for years Cane.... I'm never been intimate with zoning laws...but I'm willing to try.
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Old November 19th, 2004, 06:20 AM   #4
miamicanes
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Actually, the 42" donut question isn't quite as abstract as it looks... when I was trying to figure out how to jam a real, fully-enclosed garage under a building on a 50' R-3 lot with 10' side setbacks, I ran into the problem that you can't build close enough to the side to satisfy the city's minimum turn radius rules and minimum depth for a parking space... then to make matters worse, realized that the minimum-width 25' wide aisle meant that the only way to build a 30' wide building would be to massively (and I mean MASSIVELY) cantilever almost half its mass. While I'm sure it's technically possible, I don't know how safe I'd feel living in a 30 foot wide building sitting on columns that were wildly off-center (one row in line with the left wall, one roughly under the middle, with the right half cantilevered). Not to mention the cost would probably be staggering.

Anyway, the idea I had was to slope the ramp down into the garage as steeply as the zoning department and common sense would let me get away with (15 degrees, I think), then once the ramp was deep enough, build beams between one column sitting roughly in the middle of the lot, and another column sitting on the lot line such that the total height of the columns and beam were less than 42 inches above sidewalk height. Then, I could simply line up the columns for the right wall (10' to the left of the right property line) where they belonged and rest their bases on the beams (leaving a clear 25 foot wide path with 7' clearance for the driveway below the beam so cars could drive under.

As an added bonus, the whole garage can now be enclosed because its highest point is less than the magic 42" height, even though we're now building a reinforced concrete structure spanning from lot line to lot line.

The only major problem is that the lot has to be at least 140-150 feet deep for it to meaningfully work because it'll take at least 30-40 feet at 15 degree slope to get deep enough to leave 7' of clearance between the beam bottom and driveway. :-)

As for the "what exactly is a fence?" issue, that's because I want to build an enclosure in the back yard for my cat so he can play outside without being able to escape (no mere fence can contain a determined cat).

Last edited by miamicanes; November 19th, 2004 at 04:40 PM.
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Old November 19th, 2004, 06:59 AM   #5
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You are hired!
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Old November 19th, 2004, 10:15 PM   #6
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i want a donut
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Old November 20th, 2004, 03:10 AM   #7
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Old November 25th, 2004, 01:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown-midtown
i want a donut
LOL, Uptown-Midtown , I want a Pumpkin Pie !!!
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Old November 25th, 2004, 01:27 AM   #9
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mmmm, pumpkin pie...
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