I have a dilemma and would appreciate thoughts on the following:
Background: We are considering an increase in accessory use heights in the Single-Family zoning distirct. Right now, accessory use heights (garages, pools houses, etc) are limited to 15 feet maximum. This has been the height limit since 1965 and the code does not provide a mechanism to obtain a variance from this max limit.
We have a signficant # of historic homes here, however, some taller than 40 feet. The argument has been made that accessory uses should be allowed to be built to a height consistant with the height of the primary structure. While this might be reasonable, the general sentiment is that those seeking a height increase should obtain "permission" to do so, either via the Zoning Board or Council.
The issue I've run into is this: I only have 2 means of granting permission for increased heights: 1) A variance; or 2) a "Special Use Permit". Neither of these options quite "fit the bill":
1) A variance would require, among other criteria, that the applicant demonstrate there is a "hardship" and that this hardship is not "self-imposed". It would be an extremely rare case where an applicant could show that an additional 8 feet of height is needed for an accessory structure due to a "harship" as, overwhelmingly, requests for additional accessory structure height will most likely be for "aesthetic" reasons, additional storage space and maybe an upper level room for an office. These reasons probably won't pass the "hardship" test we rigorously apply.
2) A "special use permit" runs with the property owner, not with the land. Thus, if the house is ever sold, I would be in the position of requiring the accessory structure to be removed (or the new owner applying for a SUP). That's absurd so that won't work either.
So my question is, how do other municipalities deal with this? We could change the ordinance to allow height increases outright, but we're a "college town" and there are concerns that taller accessory heights will result in accessory dwellings (which are presently prohibited). In short, we don't want to allow increased heights "outright" to say, "20 feet" or "X percentage of the height of the primary structure."
Also, we don't presently have an "architectural review board" so that won't work either.
One option might be to create a whole new category to facilitate review of these structures. Anybody have something like this? If so, what do you call it?
Any other ideas?
if so, please feel free to comment and provide links to possible ordinance options. I'd love to see 'em!