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Saturday, Mar. 28, 2015

Zoning terms

Posted Sunday, January 11, 2009, at 5:56 PM

One of my previous stories about the proposed boys' ranch near Normandy used the term "special exception," and someone in the story comments left a comment which seemed to assume that a "special exception" was a form doing a favor for someone.

I left a comment in response explaining that "special exception" is an actual legal term referring to a particular usage which is allowed -- but not automatically -- in a given zone. Any zone (such as, for example, the A-1, or agriculture, zone) has a list of certain uses that are allowed automatically and a list of other uses that are allowed only as "special exceptions," meaning the property owner must get permission from the Board of Zoning Appeals before beginning one of those uses.

Well, someone sent me an anonymous e-mail through the web site responding to my response:

You are referring to SHELBYVILLE'S zoning resolutions; A1, etc are zones within the city of Shelbyville. Please refer to county zoning resolutions (???) when referring to the article. It then becomes a viable commentary.

I've been covering the Bedford County zoning resoution since long before it was first passed, and I can assure you that the county zoning resolution does, in fact, have an A-1 zone. I cover the county planning commission, and so I'm much more familiar with its terminology than with the city's. I used A-1 as an example because it's the most commonly-used zone on the county zoning map. Basically, when the county first adopted zoning almost everything was zoned A-1.

Many different governments use the same or similar terminology for zones: A-1, R-1, R-2, C-1, C-2 and so on. In many cases, the state planners who advise cities and counties on setting up their resolutions will use one government's plan as a starting point for helping some other government draft a resolution, and so the new city or county will end up using the same terminology and abbreviations.

It's frustrating when someone wrongly accuses me of error (often in a really arrogant or sarcastic fashion) and then leaves no return address through which I might set them straight.

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In some states, "special exception" is known as "conditional use" or "special variance".

-- Posted by Tyger on Mon, Jan 12, 2009, at 1:55 PM

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John I. Carney
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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