RICHMOND — The Planning and Zoning Commission refused to grant a building variance at their meeting Tuesday to a man who wants to build a two-car garage on his property.
Kent Johnson, a Richmond resident, asked the commission what his options are for building a garage on his property, which—due to an already existing variance—has an 80-foot frontage rather than the neighborhood zoning standard of 90 feet. A frontage is the width of the property along the road.
“There are a lot of other homes in the same situation,” Johnson said.
Due to a city building code that is based on international building and fire codes, all structures attached to the main building on the property must be at least 10 to 15 feet from property lines. Monica Merrill, a planning and zoning commission member, said the primary reason for this law is so firefighting equipment can easily access any property.
“We wouldn’t be protecting you if we allowed you to build there,” she said to Johnson.
Johnson’s home currently sits 27 feet from the property line and the proposed two-car garage would be 22 feet wide, bringing the structure too close to the property line, said Commissioner Chris Sorenson.
One possible alternative would be for Johnson to file for a common easement with his neighbor, which would allow them to build a common driveway, said Commissioner Daryl Black.
Another option would be to detach the garage from the home and build it further back on the property, Sorenson said. The garage would then be considered an outbuilding which falls under a different building code and could come closer to the property line, he said.
Johnson said that while building a garage separate from his home would not cost him more money, he does not want to detach it because it would take up most of his backyard and “would be that much more snow to shovel during the winter.”
Aside from the convenience of having an attached garage, environmental concerns also prompted his desire to build, Johnson said. “I have to let my car idle in the mornings during the winter,” he said. “That doesn’t help out the pollution situation in this valley at all.”
He said that if he cannot build a garage at his current home he might just move to another.
Johnson said he bought the home, located at 66 W. 200 South, more than 30 years ago and did not know about the 80-foot variance at the time. Marlowe Adkins, Richmond city manager, said there is no existing record of why this variance was granted. He said older homes that predate current building codes might also be affected by abnormal frontage variances.
Sorenson said that he thinks there are only a handful of homes in Richmond that might be affected by such a variance and this is the first complaint of this nature that he has heard during his four years on the commission.