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Deed Restriction to protect lots from development

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Latest post Mon, Mar 7 2016 4:01 PM by ca19lawyer2. 2 replies.
  • Sun, Mar 6 2016 10:01 AM

    • gnoto
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Sun, Mar 6 2016
    • CO
    • Posts 1

    Deed Restriction to protect lots from development


    I own a house in a very old residential neighborhood dominated by 1880's-built single family homes.

     The city has zoned the neighborhood such that a developer may construct a 40-ft high 3-story apartment building.  I do not feel this is appropriate  for the neighborhood.

     It just so happens that 5 contiguous lots have become available and are prime for development.

     I am considering purchasing 2 of the lots positioned in the middle of the 5, to prevent unwanted development.  My plan would be to buy the lots,  impose a deed restriction or a restrictive covenant on the parcel to limit the scale of any construction on the lots, then sell the lots (most likely at a loss).

     Among the many listed, I have identified a Zone Code District description from the city zoning guide whose permitted structures are more suitable for the neighborhood.  The zone code defines what style of structure may be built, height limitations, set-backs, etc.

    Now I need to tie the zone code to the covenant/deed restriction.

     I realize that I could cut and paste all the specifications of construction of each type of structure that may be built under the zone code district designation description.  However, the result would be a gigantic block of text with references to pictures, etc.  I do not feel that would be suitable/practical for a covenant/deed restriction.

     Because the property will later be sold with the deed restriction in place, I fear that too much text would scare away potential investors.  I also fear potential transcript errors and un-linked references may cause problem in the wording itself.

     It seems the most practical way to ensure that any structures built conform to that defined by a zone code designation is to reference that zone code designation in the covenant/deed restriction.

     I would like the covenant to cover as much definition as possible, with as little wording as possible, and with no ambiguity.  Simple and concise wording to a known reference, and no potential for transcript errors from the zone code document into the covenant wording.


    “Construction of any structures on the Parcel must conform to Zone District U-RH-2.5 as defined in the Denver Zoning Code, Article 5, URBAN (U-) NEIGHBORHOOD CONTEXT, June 25, 2010, Republished July 6, 2015”

     If I can include wording without risk, such as the following:  “ …. and any republished version of the same document”


    It was suggested that reference to a document is not favorable because zone code descriptions may change, etc. 

     I would very much appreciate an opinion on the risk of specifying an accessible, published, standard, legal document such as the Zone Code as the basis for reference in the deed restriction/covenant.

     Strangely, although the street where the lots are located is on the National Registry of Historic Places, the homes are not protected by a historical designation and there is no protection overlay or limitations to over-ride the zoning.




  • Sun, Mar 6 2016 6:43 PM In reply to

    Re: Deed Restriction to protect lots from development

    Zoning codes do change, sometimes quite frequently.

    It seems very cumbersome to me to refer to such a document in your deed restriction language, and also not hugely likely that this zoning code exactly describes what you desire for development on these lots.

    If the zoning code is exactly what you want, then the best option would be to plagiarize it shamelessly, rather than to reference a document that might soon be out-of-date (and therefore difficult to look up), or to allow your restriction to track zoning code changes over the years, when there is no guarantee that particular Zone District classification will even continue to exist in future versions of the code.

    But why limit yourself?  Wouldn't it be better to dream up your own wording, stating simply and clearly what you want?


    P.S. - Not my business, but I am skeptical that your plan will succeed, especially if all five lots are owned by the same seller.  Since selling all five lots to a developer is likely to bring in significantly more money than selling each lot separately to people proposing to build single-family homes would, you'd have to pay a LOT of money for your two lots to compensate for the lower price they'd get for the other three lots.

  • Mon, Mar 7 2016 4:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Deed Restriction to protect lots from development

    If you have the financial means to buy multiple pieces of property for the sole purpose described and then sell them for a presumptive loss, it would be beyond foolish not to hire a lawyer to handle this for you in the way that is most likely to withstand any challenge (assuming this is even possible, which it might not be).

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