Main Line Homes Blog


The Realtor and the Zoning Board

We recently sold some new construction to a young first time buyer. A couple of weeks ago she got notice of a zoning board hearing relating to her new home. Contacting the builder she was told not to be concerned and she did not need to attend.

Calling her Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Nick Vandekar, she asked my opinion. It was agreed that she should attend and I would attend with her.

Last night we sat through the meeting, as her case was the last item on the agenda. It was interesting to see how each situation was handled by the zoning board and also by the person submitting the application.

Firstly, a woman with her pool contractor, who already had permission to build a new swimming pool and install decking and paths, in that application it was mentioned that they would be moving the pool equipment, pump, heater etc., to a shed on the property. But it was not an actual part of that application and they had been advised to make a specific application for a variance as the shed sat only 4 feet from the edge of the property.

The board asked how big the shed was and if the equipment could be placed at the front of the shed. Which it could but would make the rest of the shed difficult to use. After some questioning and going into executive session their application was granted.

Secondly, another pool issue. This revolved around building a new pool and a cabana behind a property, but it involved disturbing some slopes considered steep from when the house was constructed in 2005. This applicant came prepared, an attorney, an engineer, lots of supporting plans, maps, documentation etc. However, the board seemed annoyed by the direction of the points being made by the attorney and stopped him, asking very pointed questions. After a long presentation, many questions were asked. Then after another executive session the board came back and making the point that one of the points about the ordinance to do with steep slopes is that disturbance is supposed to be kept to a minimum, and was this plan the very minimum the applicant could propose. The homeowner said yes he felt he could not build anything smaller. At which point the board rejected their application.

We were next up. Well not exactly us, more the builder. So the issue was three small points that arose on the as built inspection. The homes built, a very small project, were supposed to be built to 35 feet high. The as built inspection put them at 35.23 feet. There were two townhomes and each had a deck, both decks had supports which were within the set backs required, however the decks were cantilevered and the edges of the decks were 0.9 ft and 1.02 feet into the set backs required. So the builder was asking for a variance for these issues. 

At this stage one of the board members started going on about how rules were there to be complied with and he felt that the decks could simply be cut back so they complied with the rules. 

At this stage the meeting was opened up so I stood up to speak not as a witness but to make a comment. I mentioned how the township had granted a certificate of occupancy for both properties, and buyers and Realtors rely upon the accuracy of those certificates to move ahead and purchase the property. It would open a can of worms for the board to require post a sale that decks be cut shorter or the home be lowered by 0.23 feet.

After some further discussion among themselves the builder was granted relief from compliance and given variances for these issues. My client was very pleased, she got to keep her deck without any changes and she said how thankful she was that I came to the meeting.

Sometimes, you don't need an attorney, you just need a Realtor who speaks some common sense.

In the meantime if you are interested in some new construction in Berwyn, Tredyffrin Easttown, call Nick Vandekar, Selling the Main Line with Long & Foster Real Estate, office 610-225-7400, cell or text 610-203-4543 email, website and watch the video below.

If you are buying or selling on or around Tredyffrin Easttown or along the Main Line we can help you,  contact us or connect

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Comment balloon 16 commentsNick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543 • January 17 2018 11:17PM


Good morning Nick. When they say don't worry, attendance not necessary, plan on attending to protect yourself. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) 10 months ago

Lot of common sense issues here.  The zoning boards often forget to be practical and nitpick every minor infraction to enforce the laws don't make a lot of sense to begin with

Posted by Sham Reddy, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) 10 months ago

Good for you Nick.  I can easily see this going the other way if only the builder was there to present this case.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) 10 months ago

Good morning Nick. Zoning is a touchy thing. I'm glad you went with the buyer.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) 10 months ago

Nick, reading this, I was getting really UPSET, why would they not catch this prior to issuing a CO on the property.   Ridiculous, and good thing you were there to stand up for not only the builder, but most importantly, your client.  KUDOS!  

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) 10 months ago

It was certainly wise for you and your client to attend the meeting.  Sounds like the builder was definitely in the wrong for not complying with what was granted to them before the build.  They might have gotten slapped on the hand, which would have hurt your client the most.

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) 10 months ago

Wayne Martin I agree with that. I also think the builder thought it was more routine, and listening to the previous cases I could see they were thoughtful about what they did and how it impacted future applications.

Sham Reddy they havea job to do to make sure ordinances are obeyed, I get that, but you also have to be sensible as you say.

Gabe Sanders I was worried because the builder was not saying that much and I felt the board was swaying the other way.

Sheila Anderson So was I.

Posted by Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) 10 months ago

Joan Cox they tried to come back and say it was a temporary CO, and somehow thought the builder was still the owner and did not realize they had two new owners for the properties affected.

Brian England the height issue was more a grading issue and it was fractional, but the way they were talking over the decks and cutting them back to make them comply....oh noooo! Can you imagine the law suits.

Posted by Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) 10 months ago


In commercial real estate, we encountered these type of issues quite often.  It was always good to be there with our clients.  A

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) 10 months ago

Great job! You do exactly what we do, it's closed, but you're still there fighting on behalf of your clients. That's how you win clients for life. Yay for you...

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) 10 months ago

They seriously were going to say just cut the decks back by one foot?  Common sense vacated someone's mind for a bit.  Glad you were able to inject logic into the situation.  Bill

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 10 months ago

Less people, less layers of players, no HOA happens to make the zoning board meeting more tense. I was chairman of my town's zoning board and when the applicant brings in lawyers, it made the board less sympathetic to the request. If a neighborhood threatened to sue, the board also lost some of it fire in their belly about the best decision to go along with the planning board's adopted comprehensive plan. Spot zoning is dangerous. Being grandfathered in can make new applicants not so fond of their neighbor who did what he did when he could, before stricter building codes.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) 10 months ago

Good morning, Nick!

I have dealt with different zoning boards a number of times on several different issues.  I, too have found that, yes, it is necessary to attend.  Also, common sense prevails most of the time.


Posted by Brigita McKelvie, Associate Broker, The Broker with horse sense and no horsing around (Cindy Stys Equestrian and Country Properties, Ltd.) 10 months ago

Ron and Alexandra Seigel I agree, shows another level of commitment to your client.

Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD thank you, always, it is not about the transaction but helping them always.

They were asking a previous applicant wehythey could not move their septic system and put the pool they wanted there. So, when this member began talking about cutting the decks back which are high second floor decks Liz and Bill Spear I was worried they actually would make them cut them back.

Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573 the attorney before us obviously had some history with the zoning board, so keep it simple, and my client was very impressed.

Brigita McKelvie, Associate Broker I don't think they really thought it all through, they were just looking at the rules and regulations of the ordinance.

Posted by Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) 10 months ago

Nick and Trudy- how fortunate that these buyers chose you to work with them! First of all kudos to you for going with your buyers and second congratulations for interjecting some common sense at a point when it was needed.

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 10 months ago

Kathy Streib all it needed was some common sense.

Posted by Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543, Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line (Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400) 10 months ago

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