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 September 2015

Zoning variances can seem daunting.  In this issue we try to demystify the process.  Our companion article on community sensitive design shows how involving your neighborhood in your project can help "smooth the way".  Please let us know if these topics interest you so we can continue to provide informative content. 
Zoning Changes: How Do They Affect Your Future Plans?


Residential care facilities are classified as community facility uses by most zoning ordinances. Outpatient facilities also fall into this category.

From the 1970s through the mid 1980's skilled nursing facilities were being heavily developed throughout the northeast. In response to a perceived glut of nursing homes, some jurisdictions down zoned these facilities, making it necessary in most cases to obtain a variance or special permit in order to expand a facility. Hospitals and outpatient facilities were not substantially affected by these zoning changes.

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Community Sensitive Design 


In today's complex regulatory environment, obtaining special zoning approvals and variances for large scale projects can often seem like a daunting and seemingly endless process. This is especially true within large municipalities where there are layers of review by various governmental agencies intertwined with public scrutiny and political input.  Even as-of-right developments involving new buildings or additions to existing buildings are now being made subject to increased public scrutiny. For example, in some cases, architects are now required to "upload" diagrammatic drawings of proposed buildings or additions onto Building Department websites where they are subject to public/community review and comment. Concerned parties can object to a posted project over a 30 day period and the Building Department must review and respond to these community objections. Only after this public vetting period, can a project proceed into the normal examination and approval process. 

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We hope you enjoy this month's issue. Do you have questions or feedback about the information provided or regarding your facility that we can answer?  Contact us at and we will be happy to provide you with any additional information you may need.  We want to continue to offer content that interests you, our readers. Please drop us a line and let us know what topics you might want to learn more about. As always, we love hearing from you.


John W. Baumgarten, RA, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
Principal & President

Michael A. Sciara, RA, AIA, LEED AP
Principal & Vice President


John W. Baumgarten Architect, P.C., headquartered in New York, is a full-service, regional architectural firm serving proprietary and not-for-profit organizations in the healthcare, education, commercial, corporate and public arenas.  The firm has been recognized for its work with senior housing, urgent care centers, skilled nursing, dialysis, community centers and more.  This award winning firm provides architectural design services to clients in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware and Florida.
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