Hot Topic: Can I Build an Accessory Structure?

Do you want to build a carport, garage, shed, barn, greenhouse, etc.? There’s some things you need to check first if you want to avoid zoning enforcement:

  • Districts R-1, R-1(B), R-2, R-2(B): You are allowed one accessory structure, that is not larger than 1,000 square feet or cover more than 30% of the required rear yard.
    • Structures cannot be in front of the house. 
    • Structures must be three feet away from property line. 
    • If you have less than three acres and a structure larger than 120 square feet:
      • Structure must be built with customary residential finish materials: horizontal clapboard siding of all materials; wood and plywood siding; stone and brick, both actual and artificial, and textured finishes such as stucco and stucco board which visually cover the underlying material regardless of the underlying material.
      • NO preformed, corrugated or ribbed metal, fiberglass or plastic sheets or panels shall be used as siding material.
        • Exception: metal may be used if the factory applied paint closely matches your house.
  • Up to two accessory structures existing in a side or rear yard prior to April of 2008 are exempt from these regulations.

Recently, many people have come to the urban planning and land use department asking if they may keep shipping containers on their property. Per the building regulations, storage pods and similar metal shipping containers may be permitted, subject to one container per residence for no more than two non-consecutive months in a given year. However, people are asking if they can keep them permanently as additional storage – the answer is usually no, and here is why:

  • Keeping shipping containers for longer than one month on a property does not meet the SOAR goals that were decided by the UG and Board of Commissioners. One of these goals is to address the issues of property maintenance and blight. A shipping container is seen as a contributing cause to blight and is not an ideal property maintenance practice.
  • Keeping a shipping container for longer than one month is considered a Temporary Use of Land for commercial purpose, because it is not placed on a permanent foundation, which requires a Special Use Permit. The Board of Commissioners has denied almost all of the recent applications for this, as it does not meet the SOAR goals and accessory structure requirements listed above.

Read the full list of regulations here.