Set Back Requirements

This was originally published in the May 2014 issue of CasaGuam Magazine.  Click here to view the current and past CasaGuam issues.

A setback requirement refers to the distance from the property line to the building or structure located on the lot.  It can also apply to the distance from a street or road to a structure; or the distance from a natural feature, such as a river, lake or shoreline to an improvement located on the lot.   Setbacks are established to promote well-planned communities and to provide for public access, utilities and public enjoyment.

 

Setbacks can be set by federal or local government zoning laws as well as by subdivision covenants.  On Guam, the Territorial Land Use Commission is responsible for zoning regulations and variances.

 

Federal setbacks apply when the property is regulated by the federal government, such as government funded roadways or federal parks.    Federal setbacks also apply to items such as mailboxes, which interestingly enough have a maximum setback instead of a minimum setback; if a mailbox is set too far from the curb, the letter carrier may have to leave his vehicle in order to deliver the mail.

 

A few examples of Guam’s setback requirements include:

 

*  Distances from the ocean or river to a house

*  View Corridors so as not to block ocean or river access

*  Distances from a septic system to the lot line

*  Distance from a septic system to the aquifer that provides our drinking water

 

Residential setback rules are set by both the Guam zoning law AND subdivision covenants with the most restrictive covenant being the one that rules.    Setback requirements vary according to the zoning and appropriate use of the property.  Guam’s zone designations are:

  • R1 One Family Dwelling Zone.
  • R2 Multiple Dwelling Zone.
  • C Commercial Zone.
  • P Automobile Parking Zone.
  • M1 Light Industrial Zone.
  • M2 Heavy Industrial Zone.
  • H Resort-Hotel Zone.
  • S-1 (School Zone).
  • Public Facility (PF)

Different setbacks apply to each of the different zoning designations; for example a standard residential setback would be 15 feet on the front, 8 feet on each side and 10 feet in the rear; while an M-1 setback sets a minimum of 0 feet on the front, 8 feet on the sides and 20 feet on the rear of the property.

 

Any decision to build should start with hiring a licensed Guam surveyor, who will ensure your setback distances will comply with Guam law!

 

Kim Anderson Young, president of Security Title, has over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry.  Contact her at kim@securitytitle.net or 647.8100.

 

Kim

 

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