City of Newark proposes to remove “boarding house, rooming house and lodging house” uses from all zoning designations

October 4, 2016

The City of Newark Planning Commission will review amendments to the City of Newark Zoning Code tonight October 4, 2016 at 7pm at the Newark Municipal Building, 220 South Main Street, Newark, Delaware.  The boarding house, rooming house and lodging house use allows are property owner to rent by room instead of the entire house or apartment, with shared use of common areas.  Obviously, this zoning designation is popular for landlords seeking to rent to University of Delaware students. 

Adopting such an ordinance will presumably make all existing boarding houses, rooming houses and lodging houses legal non-conformities (thought it’s not clear the ordinance actually provides for that – the final version could render even existing housing illegal).  As distinct from a use that is allowed under a property’s zoning designation, one that is a legal non-conformity may be restricted as to extension, enlargement, or even rebuilding a structure to serve those uses after a casualty.  More significantly, any new uses of that nature would be prohibited entirely.  One could not rezone to allow it, and Newark is a chartered Delaware municipality that has not adopted use variances, so essentially student housing of that nature would become illegal.  Anyone in the student housing space or planning to be should seek further advice about the impact of this proposal.  Please contact one of the authors for more information.