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Thread: Building a deck on a non-conforming structure.

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Building a deck on a non-conforming structure.

    We have 7 foot side yard setbacks. A customer has a non-conforming structure set back 3 feet. His back door is high enough off of grade to actually be almost unusable. He wants to build a smallish (maybe 6x8) deck off of the back door, which itself is about 3.5 feet from the property line. Therefore, any deck built off of his back door would be an illegal structure. Our code specifically refers to decks as structures.

    My job is to follow our code, but situations like this make me feel like a mindless bureaucrat.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Seems like grounds for a hardship. If you think of the alternative, neighbors of a non-conforming structure want the security that the non-conforming structure can't expand without going through the variance process.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    It could be grounds for a variance. But hopefully your code has a provision that allows for steps, stairs/ stoop or usual access to the structure to encroach into the required yard. The deck may not be feasable, but the stoop may be.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    I was venting as much as anything. I have recommended that the property owner apply for a variance. I have noticed other towns have provisions allowing decks to encroach as near as 2' to the setback. Perhaps I will include something along those lines in the next update to the p&z regs.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Similar to what Boiker said - I wouldn't consider steps as a structure that was governed by setbacks but a deck certainly would be required to comply with setbacks, especially if your ordinance considers decks to be a structure (our ordinance does too).

    I would tell the petitioner that steps are no big deal, but a deck would definitely need a variance, no matter how big it was.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    We treat anyhting needing a building permit as something that needs to comply with setbacks. If the deck is less than 30 inches above grade (or can be made to be: fill that yard) we do not regulate it since no building permit is needed.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Otis View post
    We treat anyhting needing a building permit as something that needs to comply with setbacks. If the deck is less than 30 inches above grade (or can be made to be: fill that yard) we do not regulate it since no building permit is needed.
    I think your approach makes sense. But you might argue building permits and zoning approvals are very different matters. For example, structures under 120 sq ft typically require no building permit, but that doesn't mean they can be built in setbacks.

    This doesn't mean a policy saying structures without building permits need not conform to zoning requirements doesn't make sense, but such a policy should be spelled out directly in the code. In fact, I think I may make just this recommendation to the powers that be.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    In my fair town, anything that requires a building permit needs to be constructed outside on the setbacks. No permit required? do what you want.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by transguy View post
    In my fair town, anything that requires a building permit needs to be constructed outside on the setbacks. No permit required? do what you want.
    Would you happen to be from Branson?

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