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Accessory and Portable Buildings

Since directed by City Council in November 2015 the Planning & Zoning Commission has been reviewing the City Code to reduce confusion and inconsistencies regarding Accessory and Portable buildings. One such example is that Planning & Zoning found the City Code had conflicting size limitations on portable buildings. These inconsistencies led to confusion among residents. What is a accessory building and how is it different than a portable building? Where can I place my shed and how big can it be? The proposed ordinance hopes to answer these questions. In addition, this page serves as a primer for the Planning & Zoning and City Council Public Hearings on this topic. Here you can review the packet information and learn more about the proposed code revisions.

So lets get started with some examples from the proposed code:

accessory

portable

There are simple criteria that separate a portable and accessory building in the proposed ordinance.

Portable buildings cannot be larger than 144 square feet, must be shorter than 8 feet and unattached to a solid foundation, but can be placed in the setbacks of your property. For example a relatively small or medium sized tool or storage shed made of aluminum, metal or wood could be placed anywhere in your rear yard, even along the rear fence of your property. This shed could be on a concrete or brick base, but you could not bolt or otherwise attach the shed permanently to this base. The intent is so buildings placed near your neighbor's property are small and unobtrustive.

Accessory buildings are far less restrictive, but still have some limitations. Under the proposed code you could not place an accessory building in the setback near your neighbor's property like a portable building but it could be taller than 8 feet, up to 16 feet in height. There would also be a cap on the number of accessory buildings on your property, depending on zoning district and property size. Finally all your accessory buildings cannot exceed a certain gross square footage in size. This calculation is made based upon the size of your residence and the size of your rear yard. Look at the these slides for how these calculations work. Even the smallest houses and rear yards the Planning & Zoning Commission reviewed still were able to have construct 760 feet square of accessory building(
s). That means a resident could construct a 24 x 24 foot detached 2-car garage and still have 180 feet of square footage for a large storage shed. 

Finally the proposed code would require all accessory buildings larger than 600 square feet comply with the masonry requirements of the code. In other words a large accessory building, well over the size of any common shed would require to match the masonry construction of your primary residence. Planning and Zoning believes this regulation ensures that large structures match the aesthetic of the primary residence while allowing large sheds, even a simple detached two car garage to be made of non-masonry material.

To fully review the changes, take a look at the Key documents to the right. There you can find all the City's work on the topic over the last nine months as well as packet documents for the public hearings.

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