Many of you won’t need to read this blog post. But there will always be people that are new to buying lake properties. This is for them.
In Douglas County, there are three lake classifications. General Development, Recreational Development and Natural Environment. Each has minimums for lake frontage, lot size and lot depth. If a lake lot was platted prior to the requirements being set by the county, they are grandfathered it. The lot still has to meet the setback rules for each classification and are labeled non-conforming lots. If there is a dwelling on the property and the owner wishes to add on to the dwelling or add another structure such as a garage, the county needs to visit to approve it and grant a variance because it is a non-conrforming lot. It really isn’t that big of a deal as the owner would need to get permits from the county regardless and unless the new addition meets setback requirements and the impervious surface rule (not more than 25% of your land can be impervious surface) there is a very small chance of a problem. But, the chance the variance wouldn’t be granted is an asterisk on the lot.
The big reminder is for someone buying more than the minimum lake frontage or buying two seperate parcels that adjoin. If someone owns a lot at Lake Carlos (a General Development lake) with 190 feet of frontage, they can never split the lot into two as the minimum amount of frontage is 100 feet. If they hade 200 feet that could be split into two lots that would each have the minimum lot depth and lot size, thumbs up. However, if they didn’t, bad luck. I know of someone that bought a Lake Miltona property about a decade ago and the lot adjacent to them went on the market. It was a non-conforming lot but this didn’t effect the sale or their ability or someone else’s ability to build on it. No problem. The problem arrived when they decided it was time to sell their lake property. Beacuse they owned both adjacent parcels they could only sell them together because split into two, no matter if they had the lot lines adjusted, one of the parcels was non-conforming. If the non-conforming parcel had been been put in a different name, a trust for example, or bought by a different party, it could have been sold on its own.
One really good thing about non-conforming lake lots. Price. Because a big part of the purchase price is the dirt and specifically the amount at the lake, they often allow people to get on their favorite lake at a price that fits their budget.