Non-Conforming Parcels

Challenge

Non-conforming parcels are often small or irregularly-shaped, making them sub-optimal for construction and potentially in violation of modern zoning regulations. However, through either purchase or donation, many not-for-profit housing providers hold such land in their portfolio, where they continue to pay property taxes and maintenance costs. 

Opportunity

The benefits of utilizing non-conforming lots can range from infilling/densifying existing neighborhoods, expanding local tax base, and locating more housing near resources and services. The smaller footprint of the Rural Studio homes allow housing providers to introduce a new home prototype, potentially unlocking additional parcels and expanding the housing provider’s client base. As municipalities explore ways to provide attainable housing, harnessing non-conforming parcels can potentially increase access to housing while simultaneously increasing the local tax base.

Response

Auburn-Opelika Habitat for Humanity (AOHFH) built a series of homes in a local community but was unable to place homes on two parcels in the neighborhood, as the irregularly-shaped lots where too small for the footprint of their typical house prototype. 

Two oddly shaped property parcels showing home placement within property lines
With their small footprint, the Front Porch Initiative homes are able to utilize lots of unconventional size or shape. This allows houses to be constructed on sites that would otherwise be considered unbuildable.

By utilizing a two-bed, one bath Rural Studio home with a smaller footprint, AOHFH was able to fit the house within the existing setbacks, eliminating the need for a zoning variance. Also, while the homes address the street, a shed for garden tools was sited and designed to have a roof pitch that maximized solar orientation.

Implementation

Stevens Street