Zoning regulations enable a town to manage land use and development. A town map will identify zones. Generally, zoning follows a logic based on historic and current use, transportation arteries, commercial districts, natural resources, the availability of public utilities, residential character, parks and topography.
In Greenwich, commercial districts are centered along Greenwich Avenue, its environs, Putnam Avenue and the four train stations that serve Greenwich, Cos Cob, Riverside and Old Greenwich. More highly intense uses are clustered along the major thoroughfares and railroad tracks. Generally speaking, less than half acre lots are located along the western boarder with New York, the eastern boarder with Stamford, throughout Old Greenwich, in the northern and central sections of Riverside and Cos Cob and just north of Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. One and two acres lots are found along the Long Island Sound as well as throughout central Greenwich. Four acre lots and larger tracts of land, which support larger size homes, are found predominantly in the back country. Value is based on location, size of lot, zoning and attributes of the land as well as the size and features of the improvements.
Most Home Sales Are Less Than Half An Acre
A bird’s eye view of the zoning map of the town of Greenwich, which includes Greenwich, Cos Cob, Riverside and Old Greenwich, suggests that roughly one third of the town land mass is zoned for four acre or more minimum lot sizes. Another third is about one to two acre minimum lot size. The balance is less than half an acre minimum residential lots and commercial uses.
By definition there are more lots per acre in the smaller lot size zones, and thus more opportunities to buy smaller lots. Homes on traffic arteries tend to be zoned for intense use, with smaller lots sizes and in turn, relatively less value. There are exceptions, of course. For example, homes with smaller lots on streets near but not on top of Greenwich Avenue will retain relatively more value given the quiet convenience.
I took a look at 2017 residential home sales based on specific zoning, 53% of the number of all single family homes sold were in areas zoned for minimum lot sizes of a quarter acre or less. 62% of the home sales were on lots zoned for less than half an acre, and the combined home sales constituted 44% of sales volume. The average sales price of a home in an area for lots constituting less than a quarter acre was less than $2 million. Notably, for homes in areas where minimum lot sizes are a half acre and larger, there was over a $1.5 million increase in average value to over $3.8 million.