Land Use

I listed two adjoining properties in Dane County (Wisconsin) in an unincorporated town named Mt. Vernon, in the Township of Springdale.  The zoning is classified as HAM-R, residential hamlet.  The land use is under the auspices of Dane County Planning and Land Development.  The required lot size is 20,000 sq ft and 100 ft wide.

Both parcels are owned by one Seller.  One parcel contains a two-unit duplex, each with its own 2-car garage.  However, the driveway to the rear garage is on the other parcel’s lot which contains a single-family house.

The Seller asked the Town of Springdale board to grant a variance, but the board determined since he owned both parcels, it was not necessary.  But now that he wishes to sell both properties, he has limited options.

The first unit’s garage is in the front and the second unit’s garage is in the rear.

The gravel driveway is on the neighbor’s lot but is the only way to get to this 2-car garage.

Variance Procedures

According to the Town of Springdale Land Use Plan, “(T)he conditions upon which the petition for a variance or waiver is based are unique to the property for which the variance or waiver is sought and are not applicable generally to other properties in the town.”  Check

“The granting of the variance or waiver will not materially compromise the goals, objectives and policies of the Land Use Plan or the provisions of this chapter.”  Check

“The legal standard of undue hardship requires that the property owner demonstrate that without a variance there is no reasonable use of the property.”  (not having access to your garage seems unreasonable)


The provisions of this chapter shall apply in all unincorporated areas of Dane County.  Check

75.21 VARIANCES. (1) Where the committee finds that unnecessary hardships may result from strict compliance with these regulations, it may vary the regulations so that substantial justice may be done; provided that public interest is secured and that such variation will not have the effect of nullifying the intent and purpose of these regulations.  Check

(f) The shared driveway easement shall constitute a covenant running with the land, and must comply with the following: 1. A shared driveway easement must be set forth in a shared driveway easement agreement. The shared driveway easement agreement must be approved by the town board and the zoning and land regulation committee, and recorded.   (was not approved because the house and duplex do not share a driveway.)

The single-family house has its driveway and one-car garage directly behind it.  It does not share a driveway with the duplex.

Denial of Variance

“The basis for any objection to any such plat shall be that the plat conflicts with parks, parkways, expressways, major highways, airports, drainage channels, schools or other planned public developments.”  Check

” The sale or exchange of parcels of land between owners of adjoining property if additional lots are not thereby created and the lots resulting are not reduced below the minimum sizes required by this chapter, the zoning ordinance or other applicable laws or ordinances.”

This last statement is the key as to why the variance was denied.  You can subdivide your property IF  after dividing, both lots maintain the required minimum sizes.


Some options to consider:

  • Seller can sell both lots together (which he is currently trying to do); however, the pool of buyers is smaller as compared with selling each property individually.
  • Seller can appeal the previously denied variance; this requires time and money to repeat the application process and would probably require why this application is different from the previously-denied application.
  • Seller might have an attorney write up a shared easement agreement with himself, which may transfer to the new owner(s).
  • Seller can submit his candidacy for the Town of Springdale Board in the hopes new discussions can take place about land use matters.

As a Realtor, there are many times when boundaries are not clearly located, where a neighbor’s fence, garage, or even a boathouse is not solely within the owner’s lot lines.  A survey or Certified Survey Map (CSM) is always a good choice when there are boundary issues.

My preference is to communicate the problem with both parties to see if a reasonable solution can be found.  Involve the local government as to its land use rules and whether an easement, a variance, or change in the plat can be done. Of course, a good decision is to consult with a real estate attorney.

I can guide you through the buying or selling process.  Contact Gina Newell at Premiere Stagers & Realty, 608-345-9396.

For more information on this property go to:

MLS #1898649