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Teardowns destroy an existing structure to build another. Usually that replacement building is much larger and often of a different character than the original, affecting both adjacent landowners and the neighborhood — sometimes positively, but most often negatively.
From a regulatory perspective, it is important for planners to know that the economic conditions leading to a teardown result from social issues unrelated to design. Zoning tools to regulate teardowns include setback, building coverage, floor area ratio, height, and building volume ratio. Once a neighborhood is identified as being at risk for teardowns, the first objective for planners is to create a process that allows for "reasonable" home expansion but also preserves neighborhood character.
This issue of Zoning Practice discusses zoning tools to help communities deal with excessive residential teardowns.
About the Author
Lane Kendig is the founder of Kendig Keast Collaborative a national planning firm. Prior to that he worked in Bucks County, PA and was county planning director in Lake County, IL. He has practiced planning for over 45 years across the United States working for large and small cities, counties, and developers. He is the author of “Performance Zoning” (APA 1980) and the Island Press books “Community Character” and “Planning with Community Character” 2010. He has authored three PAS reports for APA, as well as writing numerous articles. He is an expert in comprehensive planning, land use regulations, and environmental protection. Mr. Kendig has not only written plans and codes, but reviewed thousands of site plans and designed developments ranging from small residential to super regional shopping centers.