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Maximum Square-Footage Set For Garages

Published: May 24, 2019 at 07:20 am

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Following discussion at a May 16 public hearing, P&Z members approved zoning regulations that place some controls on the size of attached or detached garages that can be constructed on residential lots with single-family houses.

The issue had come to a head at a May 2 P&Z public hearing during which several neighbors of a Bentagrass Lane man complained to the P&Z that he had built a 6,000-square-foot detached garage near his house on his three-acre residential property, which they charged damages nearby property values and adversely affects the character of the area. The Bentagrass Lane area residents did not attend the May 16 session.

P&Z Chairman Don Mitchell told P&Z members that George Benson, town planning director, had modified an earlier zoning rules proposal to place some controls on residential garage sizes.

Mr Benson said that a three-car garage typically would be 40 feet wide and 30 feet deep, resulting in a 1,200-square-foot footprint for an attached or detached garage. To provide some “work space” within such a structure, Mr Benson said he would add 10 feet to the garage’s depth, resulting in a 40-foot by 40-foot structure, producing a footprint of 1,600 square feet.

Mr Benson said that very large residential garages have rarely been built locally, but they have been built at times.

A 1,600-square-foot maximum footprint for a garage amounts to a “reasonable number,” said P&Z member Roy Meadows.

During the public comment section of the hearing, William Yakush of Butterfield Road said, “1,600 square feet is an absolutely huge garage.” A 1,000-square-foot structure represents a “realistic” size for a three-bay garage, he said. A 1,600-square-foot garage would allow there to be five or six bays in a garage, he noted.

Charles Zukowski of Cornfield Ridge Road asked if the P&Z can include with its online meeting agendas some technical information about applications, such as Mr Benson’s modified zoning rule proposal, so that the public could review the subject matter before the P&Z meeting.

Mr Mitchell said the P&Z is working with the town’s computer staff to provide more data online about its applications.

In a discussion about the specifics of new zoning regulations, P&Z member Jim Swift recommended that the maximum garage size be set at a 1,200-square-foot footprint. Other P&Z members concurred. However, P&Z member Roy Meadows maintained the size limit should be 1,600 square feet. Eventually, other P&Z members agreed to the 1,600 square foot figure.

Zoning Rules

Under the terms of the zoning regulations approved by the P&Z, on a residentially zoned lot, a single-family house is allowed one garage (attached or detached) with a maximum 1,600-square-foot footprint. A garage any larger than that, or multiple garages on the property, would require the applicant to obtain a special zoning permit from the P&Z, a process which requires a public hearing.

Other buildings, besides garages, that are accessory to the single-family house on the lot and that are larger than 1,600 square feet would require a special zoning permit.

Buildings that would house animals would be exempt from the maximum 1,600-square-foot footprint. Also, barns and manure piles would need to be set back at least 100 feet from all property lines.

Voting to approve the new zoning regulations were Mr Mitchell, Mr Swift, Corinne Cox, Barbara Manville, and Mr Meadows.

On May 2, Mr Mitchell had said the regulatory controls on residential garage sizes are intended to keep large garages from becoming machine shops and other commercial uses.

Local garages that are accessory uses to single-family houses typically have two or three bays, with some large residential garages containing even more bays. Most local residential garages are attached to a house, but some are freestanding structures.

 

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