Winter seems to be wrapping up early this year, which has many of us hoping to get a jump start on our outdoor projects. As we step into spring, our zoning department has a few tips to keep in mind.
One of the most common inquiries is about garden sheds. In "zoning speak," these buildings are referred to as “residential accessory buildings.” Here are a few tips:
- A one-story detached accessory building of 200 square-feet or less requires no building permit, but there are still zoning regulations that must be followed. (Any plumbing, HVAC or electrical work requires its own permit.)
- Placement must be in a rear yard only. If you have a corner lot or want to place a shed in a side yard, contact the Zoning Administrator to find out what you may be able to do.
- Accessory buildings must be located at least three feet from side and rear lot lines, at least 10 feet from your house and at least six feet from any other accessory building.
Decks are also a “frequently asked question.” No building permit is required for a detached residential deck if it meets the following criteria:
- The proposed deck is 200 square-feet or less
- Is 30 inches or less above grade at any point
- It is not attached to any building and is not within 36 inches of any building
- Does not serve any ingress or egress door of a building
For all other accessory buildings and decks, a building permit is required. Check with the Zoning Administrator regarding placement and setback requirements.
When thinking about an outdoor project, remember to consider your “green space.” Even though you might not need a permit or zoning approval for this project, you might be using up the space available for the next thing you have in mind. Zoning rules limit the amount of your lot that may be covered by buildings, pavement, and other impervious surfaces such as decks, patios, sports courts and even swimming pools. While there are some important aesthetic reasons for these rules, there are also some crucial stormwater considerations – to minimize run-off and to reduce overloading of the city’s storm drainage system.
Remember that you can contact the Zoning Administrator with questions about any of your springtime projects at 616-940-4817 or at the office during business hours. It’s a good idea to call ahead for availability before stopping by.