I’m looking for clarification on one of the Practice Quiz Questions, Number 67 from April 26th, 2021:
The following restrictions are found in a municipal zoning ordinance:
Floor area ratio (FAR): 1.5
Maximum lot coverage: 7,250 sf
A client is considering a building site that has 20,000 square feet of gross area. The site has a special historic district overlay that limits buildings to 4 stories.
What is the maximum gross square footage of the building allowed?
Answer: The answer is 29,000
First find the total allowable square footage by taking the gross site area times the FAR.
20,000 sf x 1.5 = 30,000 sf
Now divide the total area allowed by the area allowed per floor.
30,000 sf / 7,250 sf = 4.1
Since only 4 stories are allowed, the maximum area of the building is the lot coverage times 4 which is 29,000 sf.
I thought the answer to this question might still be 30,000 total gross square feet. While Lot Coverage x 4 Stories equals 29,000 SF, this is only 1,000 SF less than 30,000, and there is nothing in the question to believe a mezzanine might not be allowed. With 4 Stories, each floor plate could be up to the Maximum Lot Coverage of 7,250 SF, meaning a mezzanine could be up to 2,416 SF and not count as an additional story (one third of 7,250, rounded down), but still be included in gross square feet.
If a question like this comes up, where Lot Coverage produces less SF than FAR, are we supposed to ignore the possibility of a mezzanine, for a more cut and dry answer? Would the ARE itself include verbiage to indicate if mezzanines may or may not be utilized?