NORTH OGDEN -- The city council is rethinking its ordinance on accessory buildings, but the planning commission has advised leaving it in force as is.
In May 2011, the council unanimously passed a new accessory building ordinance with restrictions stating that accessory buildings have to be 25 feet from property lines and cannot exceed 25 feet in height.
In smaller zones, buildings cannot exceed 600 square feet, and in larger zones they cannot exceed 1,000 square feet.
Now, Councilman Wade Bigler is suggesting that the council and planning commission need to rethink the ordinance that he approved of just more than a year ago.
Resident Art Stowers approached Bigler about his accessory building and the problems he has had getting it built. He had been out of the country, and the ordinance changed while he was gone. He approached the city to get his permits to construct his building and was told his plan did not meet the current ordinance. He already had concrete layers scheduled to do the work and went ahead with the work anyway, despite violating the ordinance.
City officials stopped the work, but now Stowers is wondering if the ordinance could change, because to comply with the "25 feet from the property line" rule his building would be in the middle of his back yard.
Bigler agrees with Stowers' logic and said "it makes no sense" to have a building in the middle of the yard, and that it should be allowed to be near the fence or property line, especially if it can be tucked back in the corner and the neighbors aren't opposed.
Councilman Kent Bailey said there is more to think about with this issue. He spoke of other properties that have large buildings near property lines and the eyesore they create. He also said that it is never a good idea to require a neighbor's agreement.
Bailey suggested amending the ordinance zone by zone, because property sizes differ and lots are laid out differently in various zones.
The council asked the planning commission to look at the issue more than a month ago and make a recommendation.
After reviewing the information, Community Development Director Craig Barker said the planning commission wants to leave the ordinance alone and said the 25-foot setback is OK as is.
City Attorney Jon Call said the council could give specific guidelines for a new ordinance and public hearing to the planning commission and they could revisit it and make a recommendation, but without a public hearing by the planning commission the city council can't make changes to the ordinance.
Both Mayor Richard Harris and Bailey said they didn't really understand what needed to be changed.
Bigler suggested the ordinance be changed so the the building height has to be shorter, and the building can be within three feet of the property line if the height is shorter, say 15 feet.
"We need to go over this very carefully and make sure we are doing the right thing for the city and not just making exceptions," Bailey said.
Bigler said his biggest issue is putting the building so far from the property line that the buildings is in the middle of the yard.
"It seems so weird," Bigler said of the 25-foot setback rule. He added that he realizes property rights have to be protected for everyone, but that common sense should be used.
Harris suggested they advise the commission to look at changes by zone and to look at conditional use as well.
"There needs to be some sort of sliding scale."
Barker plans to take the suggestions to the planning commission to draft some changes to the ordinance and hold a public hearing.