Waterloo has some old
townhouses. You can call them row houses, too. They sit on forty
foot lots and there is no distance between the walls between units.
The walls are sitting on the lot lines. Old storefronts downtown
were also this way. The wall between the two lots is called a
“party wall.” There are cases about party walls.
If the side-yard
setback that you find in most zoning ordinances is eliminated, there
is no obstacle to building right out to your lot line. It’s your
So one form of
building is to have “Zero” set back from the side lot line. I call
this form “Zero Lot Line” and use it here to illustrate that you can
have a zero lot line building when no one is going to be owning a
unit that is above or under any other unit. In other words, if
there is no requirement for a horizontal boundary line, then there
is really no requirement for having to carve everything up with
cubes of air space and common elements. And when there is no
requirement for common elements, then you have eliminated the
problem of the concurrent ownership of the common elements.
In the Samples &
Examples section I have included a document that I did in 1979 to
create a zero lot line form of ownership on a project in Waterloo.
It is the owners’ deed of dedication for National Plaza. Because
you are sub-dividing a larger parcel of real property into more than
two parcels, you have to comply with the platting requirements. So
you create a Zero Lot Line (ZLL) approach by recording a subdivision
plat instead of recording a condominium Declaration.
To some developers
it is considered a negative to have to file a subdivision plat
because that has to go through the process of subdivision approval
at Planning and Zoning whereas recording a condominium Declaration
developers it is also thought to be easier to sell units that are
“Condos” instead of telling people that what we have is “not really
a condo,” but is a “zero lot line” instead. But I value simplicity.
And a ZLL is so much cleaner in practice: There are no “common
elements;” no ownership in common among all the unit owners; no
council of co-owners; no HOA; no requirement for an assessment for
maintenance; no lien for unpaid assessments; no record book; and no
requirement to keep “resolutions.” Using a ZLL cuts down on the red
This page was written on 04190.
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