Planning For Your New Pool: Land Use Considerations


One issue that arises on a regular basis when we’re working with homeowners on planning the installation of a new pool is land use. It’s not uncommon for either building setbacks or a septic tank/septic drain field (or both) to restrict the area in which a pool can be built. Fortunately, a good landscape architect can solve this problem. In this week’s blog, we’ll talk about some of the land use issues we encounter when planning for the installation of a new pool and how we use our expertise in landscape architecture to overcome them.


Land Use Issues

Building Setbacks

A building setback is defined as how far a structure is “set back” from another object that needs to be protected or remain untouched. This includes things like:

  • Property Lines
  • Streets
  • Rivers/Streams/Flood Plains
  • Forest Conservation Easements
  • Wells
  • Septic Tanks and Septic Reserve Areas
  • Drainage and Utility Easements

The size of property setbacks is dictated by the zoning regulations of your locality. Because zoning laws didn’t exist in the U.S. until the early 20th century, older houses usually have smaller setbacks between properties than newer ones. This is why houses in new developments usually have larger yards than older ones.

So why does this matter for your pool? A setback may not allow enough room for the construction of the pool in the location where you want it. One of the most common setback issues we encounter pertain to septic systems. Keep reading to learn how we address this issue.

Septic Tanks/Septic Fields

Septic tanks and drain fields are another problem we frequently encounter. Many rural properties have both a septic tank and a septic drain field underground, which make up your septic system as a whole. The purpose of a septic drain field is to allow for organic materials in the tank to be catabolized by microbes in the ecosystem. Effluent from the tank is released into the drain field where this process occurs naturally.

Naturally, the position of your septic tank and drain field could interfere with the desired placement of your pool.

Septic Reserve Areas

If your property has a septic system, then it also has a State mandated septic reserve area. This area insures that enough space is available to replace your septic system twice if/when your current system fails. The minimum size of the reserve area is 10,000 square feet and may be more depending on your soil types or proximity to protected waters. Not only can you not build or grade in the reserve area, often there are additional setbacks to further protect this area. This can severely limit the ‘usable’ space on your property.

Solving Land Use Problems

There are a number of potential solutions we can implement when faced with a property setback or septic issue.

If you are faced with restrictive property setbacks, we may be able to petition the locality to modify zoning requirements and reduce the setback in order to allow for construction of the pool.

If you are faced with restrictive septic setbacks, we can work with the local health department to transfer pieces of the septic reserve area to other portions of the property in order to place your pool where you want it.

To learn more about how landscape architects can help you build your new pool, contact Rhine Pools. today at 410-442-2445.


This entry was posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2015 at 9:59 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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