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Thread: Porch encroachment

  1. #1
    Aug 2004
    City of Park Ridge, Illinois

    Front porches

    Does anybody have as part of your Zoning Ordinance an allowance of front porches (covered, not enclosed) to encroach into the required front yard setback in residential zoning districts? This would be allowed without a variance, conditional use variance or requirement of any type of public hearing.

    Over the past few years we have had numerous variance requests for these structures. Our Zoning Board of Appeals usually allows them as long as they do not become the closest on the block.

    Currently, our ordinance regulates the front setback in the residential zoning districts by the average of the block. Thus, owners extending into the existing front yard could do so based on submittal of a survey showing the average front setback of the block. The average then is what is required to be followed. Of course, any deviations would require a variance.

    Or, if anyone has any experience on this matter, your thoughts would be much appreciated.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Dec 2001
    West Valley, AZ
    The attitude here is that any open front porch can quickly become an enclosed front porch and therefore must adhere to the front yard setback.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    Our code does not address it, but a town next door does:

    16.3.3. Every part of a required yard shall be open from its lowest point to the sky unobstructed, except for the ordinary projection of sills, beltcourses, cornices, chimneys, buttresses, ornamental features and eaves, provided that none of the above projections shall extend into a required yard more than 24 inches. In residential districts, canopies or open porches having a roof area not exceeding 60 square feet may project a maximum of six feet into the required front yard. Canopies or open porches having a roof area not exceeding 120 square feet may project a maximum of ten feet into the required rear yard provided that the [depth of the] rear yard is 30 feet or greater. In zero lot line districts canopies or open porches having a roof area not exceeding 120 square feet may project a maximum of five feet into the required side yard setback, except in the case of a corner lot, where the required side yard is adjacent to the street, no encroachment may be allowed.

    Personally, I agree with boiker that open porches have a tendency to become closed rooms. However, as long as you have clear standards for what is/isn't acceptable and a good code enforcment program, you should be OK. Be VERY careful if you decide to allow these. Also, I really would not consider a variance appropriate for this type of thing; what's the hardship? When you start getting lots of variance requests for the same thing and you keep granting them, then maybe it's time for a text amendment.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian permaplanjuneau's avatar
    Jul 2004
    Juneau, AK

    Exceptions to Everything

    The City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska has an exception just like what you're inquiring about--several of them, in fact. Here's the text:

    (C) Structures unheated. The following unheated structures are allowed in required yard setbacks, as provided below, and provided that roof eaves associated with these structures may be no closer than two feet to any side or rear lot line.

    (i) Unenclosed balconies, connecting deck stairways, walkways, ramps and landings with or without roofs, may extend to the front lot line or street side lot lines provided the structure does not exceed five feet in internal width exclusive of support structure and is no closer than three feet to a side or rear lot line;

    (ii through iv don't relate to porches)

    (v) Other enclosures, devices, structures or accessories deemed by the director to be similar to a building or to those other items listed in this subsection.

    (D) Uncovered porch, terrace, or patio. An uncovered porch, terrace, or patio extending no more than 30 inches above the finished grade may be no closer than three feet to a side lot line and no closer than ten feet to a front, street side or rear lot line.

    (E) Unenclosed porches or decks. Unenclosed first story porches or decks, with or without roof, and with or without non-sight obscuring safety rails less than 44 inches in height, may project no more than six feet into any yard setback, provided, however, such projection is no closer than five feet to a lot line. Eaves may project a maximum of three feet from these structures.

  5. #5
    NYC allows open porches in the front yard. (ZR 23-44a)

  6. #6
    Sep 2004
    Richmond, VA
    The county I used to work for allowed it. Up to a 4' x 6' "storm enclosure could encroach into the front setback. "Enclosure" meant roofed, but it could be open or closed on the sides. No other dimensions were allowed (i.e. not 3' x 8', etc.).

  7. #7
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    here, we allow porticos (8 ft wide, 4 feet deep max.) are permitted within the required frontyard, but anything larger than those dimensions must meet the minimum setback of the principal structure.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Blog entries

    Loudon County Virginia

    Take a look at Loudon County Virginia or Leesburg Virginia.......I noticed a bunch of new single family homes built or being built with wrap around porches, mostly not enclosed (the way I like them, but still with roof). Maybe you'll find something interesting in their codes.... Great looking homes, 3,000sf + types with brick etc.... Mostly starting in the high 400's to 500's..... The trick would be finding the porches on homes under 300,000
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Wisconsinplanner's avatar
    Aug 2004
    Kenosha, WI
    We are creating an ordinance to allow the following in our older residential districts:

    Unenclosed porches, decks and platforms covered by a roof or canopy which do not extend above the first floor of residential structures may extend or project into any required front yard for not more than six (6') feet, and into any required side or rear yard of not more than six (6') feet or a distance of not more than twenty (20%) percent of the required yard, whichever is less.

    We have also adopted the following language in our Traditional Residential districts (TRD-1 and TRD-2):

    ...unenclosed porches, stoops, patios, porticos and pergolas, as well as approved integrated architectural walls, garden walls, retaining walls and fences, are allowed no closer than seven (7') feet from the lot line.

    As far as addressing the issue of enclosing porches, our zoning ordinance requires a building permit and the porch would need to provide the required yard. Simply put, new enclosed porches could not encroach into the required yard.

  10. #10
    Aug 2004
    City of Park Ridge, Illinois

    Porch encroachment

    Thanks for the responses from my last issue on front porch encroachments.

    Upon further review if we allow front porches (residential zoning districts) to encroach into the required front yard setback this will affect how we determine the required front yard. Currently, we determine the required front yard setback by the average of the block (to the front porch if applicable) or if the average is less than the established building line the building line takes precedence.

    Now, if we allow front porches to encroach all current homes with porches would change the front setback by having to eliminate the front porch in the average. An administrative nightmare to say the least.

    Anybody have any advise on this matter. We are trying to accomodate a request by an alderman and have had numerous variances approved that allow encroachments into the average of the block and realize that it is time to make some adjustments.

    Mod Edit: Merged post with old thread, because it's easier to understand the question/situation with all of the background info together.
    Last edited by nerudite; 23 Feb 2005 at 3:37 PM.

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