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Anyone else bought acreage to build a farm only to run into one roadblock after another?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by trubandloki View Post

    And that is where having an approved site plan on file comes in handy. They can see the proposed set-back right there.
    had that... the city attorney just said Error on city official's part and was handed this for my attorney

    law provides special immunity not only to local governments (governmental immunity), but to individual government officials (official immunity) for good faith actions taken in the course of their authority

    Comment


    • #22
      Sorry it’s been such a slog - I can definitely see how the process would come as a surprise if you had neither done something like it before nor been given proper info by your realtor. Not sure if it makes it better or worse, but nothing you mentioned sounds out of the ordinary re: site approvals or building approvals. In fact, congrats on a successful re-zoning effort - that wasn’t a given!

      I have some experience pulling permits in various municipalities and I have found that the regulations/requirements themselves are somewhat standardized, as many are driven by state law. The bigger difference is how the municipality has set up their processes - do they roll all the steps into one main approval process and assign you a case manager to wrangle the various municipal entities reviewing your plan, or do they have an insanely frustrating set of poorly documented, separate approvals that you have to figure out yourself? In general, I’ve found that smaller (more rural) municipalities are easier to navigate while larger (more urbanized) municipalities are tougher.

      For others learning from this thread, don’t forget that many counties now have online, publicly accessible, interactive land development maps. You can see zoning, floodplain, etc info on any property.

      The advice to to hire a GC who has done similar work in the county (and contracting with them in such a way that they are responsible for pulling and closing all required permits) is excellent. They’ve already paid the pain of figuring out the process!

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      • #23
        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
        Welcome to the Nanny State. Whatever state you might be in!!!

        G.
        Not true! Untwist your Libertarian panties, my friend.

        I live in South Carolina now where the rule for ag. type land is "no porn, no trash, nothing nuclear." And that's a quote from a very nice person in our county's development office when I went in to ask about zoning. So you can't build a strip club or a junk yard or do anything involving the manufacture of radioactive stuff. No other limits about number of dwellings or animals or things outside of those three no-nos.

        Now-- and this is for the OP-- I learned to take my own self down to the county development office and to read the code books for my county (and city if within those limits) because I previously lived in a very tight-assed state, Oregon. Their land use law is squeaky-tight so as to prevent California-esque sprawl.

        OP, I suggested you do the same-- with your own self. And I promise, you, it's not hard. For zoning stuff, you can read those chapters online (in most places). Then go to the county office to check your interpretation. In my experience, the folks there are helpful and nice. Same for getting permits. Read the building code, then go ask. I have found that the people in the development office and even inspectors are kind and helpful if they see a homeowner trying to ask how to do it right ahead of time rather than getting pissed about not getting permits or passing inspection after the damage has been done.

        You can do it! And I would never trust a realtor to tell me about big, deal-breaking stuff like zoning or well logs. I'd make sure I knew how to do my own due diligence on those.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

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        • #24
          Another "voice of experience" story. Before building my facility in Central Florida I obtained "Agricultural Classification" from the local Property Tax Appraiser on advice of my General Contractor. Why? Because Florida State Law exempts properties classified as Agricultural (which is a whole process requiring application, records, and approval from an official in the Property Appraiser's office) from local building permit requirements for non-residential agricultural buildings. So we were thrilled when they approved our application for Agricultural Classification and were assured by the Property Appraiser's office that we were exempt from county building permit requirements for construction of a new horse barn. And .... my General Contractor had years of experience in a neighboring county building horse barns and had never run into problems on land that had been approved for Agricultural Classification (state statutes on the issue are explicit, clearly written and supported by case law). Nonetheless I ran into significant problems with the county Planning and Zoning Department who insisted we had to comply with all county permit requirements. After months of argument it took intervention from one of our County Commissioners with the County Attorney's office to get everything straightened out.

          Others I know have run into problems with the local building department for starting construction of a pole barn on rural property zoned agricultural. In the past, you didn't need a permit for this type of non residential structure on property zoned agricultural but now you do --- just being zoned agricultural doesn't exempt you from all the "regular" permitting requirements. So once again .... hard to overstate the importance of checking everything before you get started, and engaging a GC with local experience.

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          • #25
            This thread brings up many memories. We navigated a lot of the same issues when we were building our private facility (barn, indoor, outdoor, etc.) nearly 20 years ago. We did a lot of homework and we were prepared for the process. We successfully obtained multiple variances and the project was moving along when we were hit by an unexpected roadblock. A zealous building inspector tried to tell us our indoor, which was intended for private use, was a commercial building and needed to comply with commercial fire statutes which required sprinklers and steel exit doors on all areas of entry and egress (Really? We are supposed to navigate a hinged steel door while leading a horse?). We successfully appealed the decision to the state, but talk about a last minute monkey wrench.

            These projects aren't for the faint of heart but are a lot easier to navigate if you educate yourself and understand the process and what to expect. I would echo some of the above advice 1) the realtor doesn't make or enforce building codes, or zoning restrictions so don't rely on them for advice, 2) access and read the zoning laws pertinent to your township, they contain a LOT of useful information, 3) hire experienced professionals that have successfully built/designed/engineered projects in your locale 4) have a meeting with the building inspector (or relevant authority) at your town. Submit site plans and relevant engineering documents. Ask the inspector if they foresee any issues. Get it in writing. Schedule a follow-up meeting(s) to discuss any unresolved issues. Get it in writing.

            The importance of hiring experienced professionals cannot be over-emphasized. The cheaper bid doesn't save ANY money when the work has to be redone or the project is delayed.

            Stamped plans are not uncommon and I wouldn't view that as a roadblock. Your GC or project manager should be familiar with the town zoning rules and he should have informed you of this requirement if you weren't already aware. It is great that you were able change the zoning. It isn't uncommon to obtain a variance, but obtaining a change in the zoning rules is usually more complicated and is certainly not a given.

            Best of luck with your project. I'm sure you'll love it when it's finished!

            Comment


            • #26
              Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post
              This is all
              helpful, thanks. We did end up having to engage an engineer (expensive!) but that solved most of our problems. I had been assured by so many (barn builder, ring builder, realtor and even the Town planner) that I wouldn’t need one so it came as shock that I actually did. Ugh. Live and learn and drink a lot of wine.
              Take advantage of discounts on wine by the crate

              We bought our property (after making sure horses were not a problem) and sited the house because, well, house is more important than barn. After that, we discovered that the barn had to be "behind" the house. Not behind wherever the front of the house was, behind as in relative to the road. And we'd sited the house way back off the road because it was the only place to allow a basement garage and a walk-out basement door. This meant the barn had to be even further back (which was fine in terms of that far off the road, no matter how quiet its dead end self is), but also, on the lowest point of the property Not a deal-breaker, it just meant having to build up the pad for it, but still, water accumulates down there, t though thankfully not IN the barn.

              The "final construction document" is very normal. We also had to have engineer seals of approval for things like weight-bearing cross beams (log house).

              And triple ditto getting every freakin' thing in writing. All of it, no matter how trivial it seems. We fired the first builder because we told him in the interviewing process we wanted the right to use our own sub-contractors for a couple things, and he said "no problem, I do that all the time". But when it came time to sign everything and get going, he said "what? No, I use all my own contractors". And this was a week before our log package was being delivered!

              And never ever feel like any question is too silly or basis, because I tell ya, construction terms don't always mean what we laypeople think they mean.

              We had a front porch added on after construction started because we didn't realize how boring the front looked. Our builder asked us if we wanted the porch "roofed in". We thought that meant a flat roof above door height, you know, like a typical room. We said "no, we want it open to the peak" (because it's higher at the house wall than at the stairs) and she never asked any clarifying questions.

              No - it meant "do you want the trusses exposed, or covered. And this was just basic 2x4, nothing fancy and meant to be exposed. At that point we were mad enough over other things that we did it ourselves.

              And be ready to be all up in their business while they are building. Every day if possible, random times if possible. We caught ours barely nailing the door frame from the garage to the basement, most nails missed going into the solid wall, and when asked about it , she said "well, once we got the sheet rock up, you'd never see that"

              I'm with mvp on making sure to be well-acquainted with the courthouse and zoning books and the people. We also found them to be very helpful in making sure we got the right answers, and they also weren't afraid to ask us questions. It's going to require a lot of hands-on involvement on a very regular basis.

              Plan for going over-budget - sh!t happens. Assume a good 10% over and figure out sooner, rather than later, how you'll make that up.

              And just have fun! You're going to be stressed. You'll wonder why on earth you did this. But the day you move in, you'll know why
              ______________________________
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #27
                Thanks guys. The only thing I would disagree with is not expecting the realtor to know what the property was zoned for ... he assured us, in writing, that it was fine for livestock and we have actually been advised by our attorney to sue him on this basis but we won’t because he is (was) a personal friend.

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post
                  Thanks guys. The only thing I would disagree with is not expecting the realtor to know what the property was zoned for ... he assured us, in writing, that it was fine for livestock and we have actually been advised by our attorney to sue him on this basis but we won’t because he is (was) a personal friend.
                  Unless I am reading this wrong, you are basically making the same point every else is tying to make - do not believe the realtor about important things like zoning.

                  I am not saying they are bad people, but they do seem to make broad generalizations that are frequently incorrect about things like what types of animals are allowed, or how the zoning will affect what you want to do, etc.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    I WOULD expect a realtor to know the current zoning of the property, but I wouldn't necessarily expect them to know what that REALLY means. And even then, see it to believe it - it's not hard to find out from the courthouse what the property is zoned for, and all the details of that zoning.
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by JB View Post
                      We bought our property (after making sure horses were not a problem) and sited the house because, well, house is more important than barn. After that, we discovered that the barn had to be "behind" the house. Not behind wherever the front of the house was, behind as in relative to the road. And we'd sited the house way back off the road because it was the only place to allow a basement garage and a walk-out basement door. This meant the barn had to be even further back (which was fine in terms of that far off the road, no matter how quiet its dead end self is), but also, on the lowest point of the property Not a deal-breaker, it just meant having to build up the pad for it, but still, water accumulates down there, t though thankfully not IN the barn.
                      I am in exactly this situation right now - with the bonus that this rule *only* applies to *private* horse barns. Any other kind of barn has no restrictions except 50 ft setback or something. Can any of you explain that to me? (It also may apply to "arenas", but I'm not sure if that means indoor-only or both indoor and outdoor.)

                      The first barn builder I talked to said "Well, what makes a horse barn? You're going to build a pole barn for storage that just happens to have some stalls in it" - which is literally what I want to do because I want my horses out as close to 24/7 as possible. I have no problem putting my run-ins or even a shedrow behind the rear line of my house, but I have to put in a second drive for the barn, and don't want to have to cut my property in half with that....

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #31
                        Originally posted by trubandloki View Post

                        Unless I am reading this wrong, you are basically making the same point every else is tying to make - do not believe the realtor about important things like zoning.

                        I am not saying they are bad people, but they do seem to make broad generalizations that are frequently incorrect about things like what types of animals are allowed, or how the zoning will affect what you want to do, etc.
                        No I am saying I do NOT think it was that ridiculous to rely on the realtor as far as zoning advice, particularly because he was a good friend with a fiduciary duty to us as his clients. I mean you rely on your insurance agent for the ins and outs on types of insurance, you rely on your lender for the ins and outs of mortgage advice ... isn’t a licensed realtor supposed to be an expert in real estate? I don’t think it was that far fetched to expect him not to steer us wrong on the zoning (this is what he deals in day in and day out, and in this are) and my attorney agrees with me.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post

                          No I am saying I do NOT think it was that ridiculous to rely on the realtor as far as zoning advice, particularly because he was a good friend with a fiduciary duty to us as his clients. I mean you rely on your insurance agent for the ins and outs on types of insurance, you rely on your lender for the ins and outs of mortgage advice ... isn’t a licensed realtor supposed to be an expert in real estate? I don’t think it was that far fetched to expect him not to steer us wrong on the zoning (this is what he deals in day in and day out, and in this are) and my attorney agrees with me.
                          A realtor is an expert at buying and selling real estate, not an expert at local zoning. They are two very different things and zoning rules can be very different (in my part of the world at least) from one town to the the next. So, I think it is crazy to assume that a realtor knows the specifics of the zoning rules in every town.

                          The way I read what you posted is that this realtor gave you a written statement about zoning, which then means he is making a claim that something is a certain way that you based your decision on. (It was not a casual 'gee, I think this is zoned for AG so you should be able to have all the horses you want here' statement like realtors like to do.) Because you were given a written guarantee by your realtor friend and that was not the case then you have a basis to sue.

                          But this thread is just people giving friendly advice, not legal advice, about how an educated person deals with buying a farm, and that includes doing your own research at the town about such things. Do not believe anything the realtor tells you if you buying depends on that information.

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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post

                            No I am saying I do NOT think it was that ridiculous to rely on the realtor as far as zoning advice, particularly because he was a good friend with a fiduciary duty to us as his clients. I mean you rely on your insurance agent for the ins and outs on types of insurance, you rely on your lender for the ins and outs of mortgage advice ... isn’t a licensed realtor supposed to be an expert in real estate? I don’t think it was that far fetched to expect him not to steer us wrong on the zoning (this is what he deals in day in and day out, and in this are) and my attorney agrees with me.
                            Not all realtors are created equal. And IME, you don't have to be "Harvard--- then Wharton MBA" smart to hold a real estate license. I also think that it's the nature of the industry to learn only enough about any given issue (and there are lots of them!) so as to get a deal done.

                            And, IME, the same could be said for loan officers. Not all are created equal. I have dealt with a few who seemed like the kid to the dad of the underwriters. "Sure," he'd tell you, you could have a rager at his house. He's got you. You are his bestie. The money is as good as yours. And then, the night before, he "asks dad" and the answer is No.

                            Dude! I know my financial situation inside and out. I can tell you that in the first phone call. I can document anything I tell you is true. Your only job is to *know your underwriters' criteria". Just know that stuff; that's all I ask. It will save all of us a lot of time and effort. Sigh.

                            I am not a savvy-enough shopper to tell you how to distinguish between better- and worse insurance agents.

                            But you get the idea-- merely having a fiduciary responsibility doesn't mean that can to that to the nth degree, or that they know when they aren't doing that job quite well enough. And that's true even though your attorney (like me) would be happy to hold everyone to the highest standard. But, again, that will cost you time, money and effort if you want to fight about it.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Just to add … Ag status is not a "free card" for everything. Locally, though an ag building is exempt from zoning standards, it is subject to inspection and permitting for electrical. Even a single outlet for the fencer.
                              Equus makus brokus but happy

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                              • Original Poster

                                #35
                                Originally posted by hosspuller View Post
                                Just to add … Ag status is not a "free card" for everything. Locally, though an ag building is exempt from zoning standards, it is subject to inspection and permitting for electrical. Even a single outlet for the fencer.
                                Did not think it was or imply that in any way. Just changed our timeline and added many restrictions

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post

                                  Did not think it was or imply that in any way. Just changed our timeline and added many restrictions
                                  Not directed toward you, there are many people reading COTH. Local regulations always take precedence. That's why I specified "locally" as it applies to my town alone
                                  Equus makus brokus but happy

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    One of the reasons to always check the zoning yourself is that only you know all the things you might dream for your property. The realtor hears "horses" and maybe that means yeah you can have a pet horse; the neighbor does. But your dreams include having a horse breeding farm with an arena where you'd have your instructor come in for clinics, and suddenly a whole different set of rules apply.
                                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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