Author Topic: Do Covenants Trump Zoning?  (Read 5668 times)

mvp

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
Do Covenants Trump Zoning?
« on: April 25, 2022, 11:59:39 AM »
Need thoughts from land use experts here. If covenants restrict residential density to a greater degree that zoning, which prevails?

vicupstate

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3866
Re: Do Covenants Trump Zoning?
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2022, 03:22:58 PM »
Need thoughts from land use experts here. If covenants restrict residential density to a greater degree that zoning, which prevails?

I'm not a lawyer or a planner but I would expect that neither could be violated, thus whichever is more restrictive would prevail. If zoning says 20 units per acre and covenants say 10 units per acre, then 10 units per acre would prevail because it violates neither rule. 
"The problem with quotes on the internet is you can never be certain they're authentic." - Abraham Lincoln

Charles Hunter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5175
Re: Do Covenants Trump Zoning?
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2022, 03:52:11 PM »
Need thoughts from land use experts here. If covenants restrict residential density to a greater degree that zoning, which prevails?

I'm not a lawyer or a planner but I would expect that neither could be violated, thus whichever is more restrictive would prevail. If zoning says 20 units per acre and covenants say 10 units per acre, then 10 units per acre would prevail because it violates neither rule. 

Spitballing while we wait for an expert ...  :)
But, in this example, would 15 units per acre be allowed? It is within the zoning limit, but violates the covenants.  [cue "Think" music]

fieldafm

  • Editor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4681
Re: Do Covenants Trump Zoning?
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2022, 04:09:50 PM »
Need thoughts from land use experts here. If covenants restrict residential density to a greater degree that zoning, which prevails?

Generally, the more restrictive limit applies. 

Say for instance that zoning laws change for any RMD-1 property to allow for 8 units per acre (instead of 4 units per acre), or change to allow for an ADU by right.... but there is either a neighborhood covenant, a PUD or some type of historic easement that says 2 units per acre and no ADUs... then a change in the underlying zoning to a more intense use won't circumvent that existing covenant, PUD, easement, etc.

There are options for removing or amending the covenant.  But, that depends on your specific situation... and can't be answered in the more general form of your question.

mvp

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
Re: Do Covenants Trump Zoning?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2022, 10:50:55 AM »
Thanks. Here's the situation...John Milton and Chester Stokes own adjacent lots in the Estates section of Deerwood. I believe Milton has a house and a barn/stable on one of his lots. Much of the area is deemed wetland. The Estates section generally requires at least a 3-acre lot and larger homes. Milton/Stokes want to build 79 patio homes on this property with access from Point Meadows Road via an easement granted by JEA. They would require purchasers of these homes to purchase membership in Deerwood Country Club (not required for Deerwood home purchase except in new Collins Grove section). Here are the lots in question:

https://paopropertysearch.coj.net/Basic/Detail.aspx?RE=1677430006

https://paopropertysearch.coj.net/Basic/Detail.aspx?RE=1677431300

https://paopropertysearch.coj.net/Basic/Detail.aspx?RE=1677431900

https://paopropertysearch.coj.net/Basic/Detail.aspx?RE=1677431000

Site plan:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/rslnk16bv31360w/Point%20Meadows%20Site%20Plan.jpg?dl=0

Covenants:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hva2qyzuzzw0aso/Estates%20of%20Deerwood%20Phase%203%20Covenants%20and%20Restrictions.pdf?dl=0


Deerwood has drainage and flooding issues, and this could potentially exacerbate that problem. Also, taking down a large number of trees could increase noise from I-295. It is perceived as "seceding from the union" by a lot of homeowners. Some of the country club members want it because it will increase club membership and bring in needed revenue. Others don't trust that these homeowners won't eventually get access via James Island Trail and increase traffic pressure. It is next to the Skinner's property and they are not happy about it. Deerwood is fairly old (1960's) and has lots of infrastructure improvement needs. The HOA's attorney Ansbacher said it's up the HOA board to decide either way, but sadly it looks like lawsuits await no matter which way it goes and those legal fees come out of the entire neighborhood budget. It's a big mess and some wish a non-profit preservation group could buy it and preserve it.   

jaxlongtimer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3419
Re: Do Covenants Trump Zoning?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2022, 07:02:20 PM »
Skinners vs. Stokes should be an interesting political tussle :).  As all this land was likely sold by the Skinners to a predecessor owner, I wonder what they had in mind in selling such large acreage at the time.  It looks like George Law was an owner before Stokes and he, too, was a developer/builder, who, as I recall, eventually went under.  I know Law lived on a big lot in the back of Deerwood and have to imagine maybe he would have built additional "Deerwood houses" on this property at some point.

It shows how desperate developers are for land that they are exploiting "nooks and crannies" like this.  That Stokes/Milton control property on Point Meadows apparently for access, along with lining up the JEA easement, shows they have been planning this in some detail for a time.

Given the number of homeowners in Deerwood and their average home values, I would imagine if they agree to hire lawyers to fight it, it won't be much of a hit per homeowner although I am sure no one likes spending their dollars on legal fees.  Would Milton/Stokes be contributing to the neighborhood budget, effectively paying to sue themselves :)?

I always say building next to "vacant" land, especially in Jax, is risky as you never know what might go in "next door."  Zoning rules here are meant to be broken so you can't rely on them.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2022, 09:13:02 PM by jaxlongtimer »