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Thread: Accessory use without a principal use

  1. #1
    Zoning Lord Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Accessory use without a principal use

    On our planning commission agenda today, we have a draft amendment to our land development regulations that would allow as a matter of right, the construction of residential docks, piers, and boathouses on undeveloped land.

    The way our code is currently constructed, a property owner could apply for a CUP for a dock. This proposal started when a CUP was recently denied by the commission.

    Do any of your jurisdictions allow an accessory use on property without a principal use? Thoughts, comments?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Sure, along the Schuykill River in several townships (including Philly) in PA.

    The land isnt fit for human habitation due to flooding, but perfectly fine for recreational use.

    Boathouse Row in Philly is a famous one.

  3. #3
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    No, we don't allow any accessory structures on a zoning lot prior to a principal building.

    Now that doesn't apply to fences, because we don't consider fences accessory structures.

    I would think that docks on a vacant zoning lot would be ok as long as there was no storage of watercraft or other vehicles on the property. But if you started allowing garages and sheds and gazebos, etc, that wouls get problematic.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    From my fair city's code:

    ACCESSORY USES AND STRUCTURES
    (A) A structure or use which is clearly incidental to a principal structure or use, and is located on the same lot with the principal structure or use, is an accessory use. All accessory uses are subject to the restrictions in this section.

    (4) May not be erected prior to the principal use or structure.
    ________________________________________________________________
    We have a seperate zoning class to handle your question.

    Water - Recreation (W-R)
    List of uses permitted in the W-R district, which meet the requirements and restrictions of that zone:
    Boating, fishing, swimming, and marine supply sales, display, rental, and repair
    Boat docks, clips, piers, wharves, anchorage and moorage for yachts and pleasure boats
    Boat sales, rentals, and repair
    Fishing pier
    Restaurant and refreshment stand
    Seasonal and recreational housing
    Yacht clubs.
    Last edited by JNA; 20 Sep 2007 at 11:37 AM.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I've never seen it allowed, but for recreational uses I wouldn't have a problem with it -- as long as mobile homes dont start popping up with them.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Out here in the sticks, it is quite normal for the gentlemen of the house to build his Barn or Garage on the property years before they build the house. It gives them a place to be sent.
    (Disclaimer, I would not be speaking of any of the wonderful men posting here!)
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    We allow it only in the ag district, but then the accessory use becomes the principal use and must meet the corresponding setbacks. It makes sense in the ag district due to the need for pole barns, etc.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian SideshowBob's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    No, we don't allow any accessory structures on a zoning lot prior to a principal building.

    Now that doesn't apply to fences, because we don't consider fences accessory structures.

    I would think that docks on a vacant zoning lot would be ok as long as there was no storage of watercraft or other vehicles on the property. But if you started allowing garages and sheds and gazebos, etc, that wouls get problematic.
    Same here and I agree.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Our code: Accessory Use or Building An accessory use or structure is a use or detached sructure subordinate to the principal use or structure located on the same lot, parcel, or tract and serving a purpose that is customarily incidental to the primary use, or the primary structure. An accessory use or strucure may precede the primary use or structure. Examples include a garage or Guest House as defined in these Regulations appurtenant to a single-family dwelling unit; the barn, stable or shed appurtenant to a ranch. Except as otherwise provided in these Regulations, accessory uses and structures are considered Permitted Uses.

    We're pretty rural here - the issue of not permitting an accessory prior to the primary hasn't arisen. Perhaps the throbbing brain might be able to enlighten me why we wouldn't want to allow it.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian KSharpe's avatar
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    You don't want someone to turn a lot into a big storage area- it's unattractive and when someone isn't on site, they tend to care less about what it looks like.
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  11. #11
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    a lot of people put up a garage and the house

    and we have many second "homeowners" who only have the garage on the lot as a place to put their vacation stuff

    there is nothing prohibiting it so here it's allowed and it isn't too big of a deal

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plan 9's avatar
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    Ummm, you can't have an accessory use without a primary use. By default it would be the primary use if there was no other use on the property, unless you consider vacant as the primary use...
    "Future events such as these will affect you in the future."

  13. #13
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    It's not unusal for me to see a Use Variance application when a property owner wants to put up an accessory structure without/before a primary one. And in most cases, there is no legal criteria for granting the variances. In some cases, however, where there truly is nothing else (that's allowed by zoning) that can be built there, then the variance could be granted. (Personally, I haven't seen many cases though.)
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