Auxiliary Land Improvement

by Roxanne Case
(Bangor, Pa.)

Visitor Question: I live in a residential area. Across the street there is a lot that is zoned residential but classed as an auxiliary land improvement. It is a dump. What is auxiliary land improvement?

Editors Respond: Like many planning-related terms, this one is subject to local variation. We can't answer your question for sure, but we can give some options as to what is intended.

In most zoning ordinances, a list of permitted uses within each zoning district (residential, in this case) is given. Then either within the specific list for an individual zoning district, or in a more general list at the end, what is often called permitted auxiliary uses are shown.

The most common examples of auxiliary uses for a residential zone would be detached garages and storage sheds.

So an auxiliary use is something that is secondary to the main land use, in this case, a home. An additional part of the idea is that an auxiliary use is common to that primary use. So no matter how tiny, a store could not be an auxiliary use in a residential zoning district.

Now the only part of your question that has puzzled us is that you say that whatever is across the street from you is an auxiliary land improvement. "Improvement" in real estate or planning terms means a structure or building. In many states property assessment is divided into an amount for the land and an amount for the improvements (translated into English, that would be the buildings in a residential district).

So possibly what is across the street from you is an old garage or shed, with the primary residence having been torn down.

If you are concerned about the condition of this building or buildings though, you should be able to ask for the same level of code enforcement that would be possible with a house.

Or maybe this visitor means that what lies across the street from her is literally a dump, meaning an informal place where people dump trash. In that case, we are clueless as to what an auxiliary improvement might mean.

If you need more information, you should ask your town, city, or county government, whichever is in control, about the meaning of auxiliary land improvement in this particular case.

We hope that your local government has enough safeguards in place that you can prevail on them to require the property owner to remove whatever dump may exist across the street from you.

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