December 26, 2016
Strip malls, loved by consumers for their convenience and disliked by government officials for their cookie-cutter appearance and focus on the automobile, have continued to rapidly develop throughout the U.S. With their popularity higher than ever, we have seen many zoning report requests for these popular one-stop shops. What many people don't realize is that these types of developments contain a wide array of potential issues related to zoning code compliance. Specifically, determining the overall parking compliance has increased considerably in complexity.
Typically, municipalities throughout the United States base parking requirements on a use-by-use basis. For example, a restaurant may require 10 parking stalls per 1,000 square feet while an office only requires 2 parking stalls per 1,000 square feet of tenant space. With strip malls, there may be a combination of office, restaurant, and retail uses all within the same development. During the permitting of such uses, it isn't very difficult to calculate each tenants individual parking requirement and ensure that the site is consistent with the parking regulations at the time. Fast forward 20 years, experience multiple local zoning code amendments, and modify half the original tenants and all of a sudden the development is completely out of conformance with what was originally approved. Even more frustrating, local zoning officials have poor records as to why the parking has become out of compliance and why government staff have continued to approve tenant changes that have resulted in major parking deficiencies.
At Zoning Research Group, we regularly analyze complex parking issues in our reports that are associated with strip mall type development. While parking may be outlined in local zoning codes, our experience has taught us that these types of issues aren't black and white. Often times, there may be an approved parking plan on file with the City that overrides the code requirements. There may be exemptions built into the code due to its location near a transit stop. At many firms specializing in zoning reports, staff will provide you with code requirements and blanket statements indicating if a site is legal non-conforming. At Zoning Research Group, we hold government officials accountable and maximize the strength of our reports by adding additional documentation to avoid any doubt regarding parking compliance. With a staff of former City Planners and Zoning Officials, we have a unique perspective on zoning and parking issues that others do not have. When ordering a zoning report with Zoning Research Group, you will get the most experienced staff that are equipped with the experience, credentials, and confidence to ensure that your zoning report is accurate and meets your needs.