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Thread: Non-habitable structures on vacant residential parcels

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    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Non-habitable structures on vacant residential parcels

    Our commissioners want to allow non-habitable structures on vacant parcels zoned Residential. (I'm not in favor.) We allow them in Ag and Ag/Timber use as a matter-of right. bona fide ag use (timber harvesting, sandmining, etc.). What does the throbbing Brian think? Any experience with this issue?
    Habitual Offender

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I'm in farm country so I get it all the time. For my residential zones we allow it because a lot of time the people will build the giant barn/garage/shed store the construction materials there while they build the house. We also get people who buy small worthless lots, build a cheap shed on it and use it as their personal mini storage. Usually those lots are so bad they would never get a house built anyway so I figure at least something is there.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    We only allow that when the property is a bona fide farm and the building is strictly for farm use only. Like DVD, we had far too many instances where those buildings would just become a personal dumping ground of peoples excess crap and felt it was necessary from a property value protection standpoint. We've allowed at least one since I've been here as a variance due to the lot being worthless for any other use (too small, corner setback, etc.). I have no issue with that if they have an actual hardship, mostly if they don't perc.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    We only allow them as accessory buildings to a primary use. So if there is no primary use on the property, we can't approve the accessory use. However, once there's a building permit issued for a house, we'll go ahead and allow them to get the garage or shed put up for the same reason that was mentioned previously - storing equipment on the property during construction.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    We don't allow them at all without a primary use structure on the property. We don't have any Ag land, though, and I can certainly see the necessity of it for that land use. For purely residential properties, I'm not at all in favor.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    The Maine method of single lot residential development often is building the garage first (this is year 2, year 1 is utilities and septic/well and then they camp on it) then year 3 (or more) is the house so if we tried to enforce a nonresidential structure when the garage permit came in, we'd be tarred and feathered

    What do people want to be allowed as a nonresidential structure?
    Kim Wexler: Either you fit the jacket... or the jacket fits you.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by flbeachgirl View post
    We don't allow them at all without a primary use structure on the property. We don't have any Ag land, though, and I can certainly see the necessity of it for that land use. For purely residential properties, I'm not at all in favor.
    That's our practice in my town in Oregon. You can't have an accessory structure without a primary structure. We would allow the garage to be buit first if its building permit was issued after or at the same time as that for the house. We have let one party build a garage that included an ADU before building the main house, as we have no minimum size restrictions for dwelling units and therefore we could consider the ADU to be the main house on the property.

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    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    I was thinking about this earlier today. I've long since thought that this may become a problem here, specifically on lots that don't perc or are too small to be of use for any other purpose. I think if you're absolutely forced to add this use to the code, the best way to do it would be to put heavy design guidelines on the structure. No metal buildings, no pre-fab carports. Everything must be stick built and match the decor of the neighborhood.

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    Cyburbian Doohickie's avatar
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    Curious: In our city, when Habitat for Humanity builds a home, they put a portable shipping/storage container on the property with the building materials inside. It has a big ol' lock. If they didn't lock the portables, building materials would vaporize in the neighborhoods where Habitat builds. Do y'all allow for these types of portables on a build site?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Usually when it's construction related it's just allowed as part of the permit because 9 out of 10 times it goes away when the home is built.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    We allow an accessory structure only if: 1) The primary structure (residence) is there; 2) When the primary structure is under construction, with the accessory structure tied into the same permit; or 3) If the property owner has their primary structure on the adjacent and contiguous property. Number 3 was originally designed to allow flexibility for someone that owns two lots but where a lot merger isn't necessary.. it seems to work, but every once in awhile a realtor tries to sell off that one adjacent parcel, which would make it nonconforming.

    Quote Originally posted by Doohickie View post
    Curious: In our city, when Habitat for Humanity builds a home, they put a portable shipping/storage container on the property with the building materials inside. It has a big ol' lock. If they didn't lock the portables, building materials would vaporize in the neighborhoods where Habitat builds. Do y'all allow for these types of portables on a build site?
    We issue a temporary use permit which is tied into the life/validity of the building permit for the primary structure.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Our Board directed us today to draft amendments to our LDRs to allow non-habitable structures on vacant residential properties. We reviewed ordinances in similar sized jurisdictions from Nassau County to the east to Escambia County to the west. None of them allow this use. I explained to my Code Enforcement Manager to view this action as a full and long-term employment act.
    Habitual Offender

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yup

    Make sure you send notices to people living next to vacant lots with a wonderful example of what their redneck neighbor is likely to build:

    or
    “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

  14. #14
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    Our Board directed us today to draft amendments to our LDRs to allow non-habitable structures on vacant residential properties. We reviewed ordinances in similar sized jurisdictions from Nassau County to the east to Escambia County to the west. None of them allow this use. I explained to my Code Enforcement Manager to view this action as a full and long-term employment act.
    Yikes. We allow them only as accessory to a principal use, but a few years back we had one PC'er here that wanted to prohibit all accessory buildings, even on occupied residential parcels.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    Our Board directed us today to draft amendments to our LDRs to allow non-habitable structures on vacant residential properties. We reviewed ordinances in similar sized jurisdictions from Nassau County to the east to Escambia County to the west. None of them allow this use. I explained to my Code Enforcement Manager to view this action as a full and long-term employment act.
    Good luck. I think you'd be hard pressed to find any place that allows it. I still think the best way is to heap a bunch of design guidelines on it.

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