Skip navigation

How is the City Code on Out Buildings interpreted and enforced?

Recently the pictures below were shared on Facebook. I’m sure I’m not the only member of council that hears questions and discussions about out buildings.  In my couple years as mayor I've heard discussion by residents who believed they were only allowed one shed and that it had to be 8 foot high or less.  This conclusion is very understandable if a resident used the Search Feature found within the website housing the City’s codified ordinances and searched “Shed” and then discussed the results with the neighbors.   
 
Shed

 
1123.101  STORAGE SHED.
   "Storage shed" means a structure for the use of keeping and preserving diversified articles for future use, the size of which should not exceed twelve (12) feet by twelve (12) feet and eight (8) feet in total height and shall not be permanently attached to the house.
(Case 441, 4-16-80)  (Ord. 81-0-08.  Passed 8-3-81.)
 
1191.04  STORAGE SHED.
   One (1) storage shed per lot or parcel is permitted in any "A" or "R" District provided it is not within five (5) feet of any rear or side property line.
(Case 441, 4-16-80; Case 48, 8-23-84)  (Ord. 81-0-08.  Passed 8-3-81.)
  
1121.02  FEE SCHEDULE.
   (a)   In order to effect the purpose of this Zoning Ordinance, an appropriate fee schedule for required permits and services shall be established by ordinance of Council, and such schedule may be revised periodically as Council finds appropriate.
   (b)    The following Fees are established:
 
 
ZONING
Zoning Certificates: Fee
Accessory Building; Storage Shed;
Projection (Patio Cover, Carport, Patio, Enclosure, etc.);
Hot Tub; Swimming Pool; Room Addition;
Remodeling/Alteration; Attached Garage
$30
 
Looking at the photo above and judging by the height of the man it is obvious that the building is higher than 8 feet.  There is obviously a discrepancy between the code on shed’s and this building.  One thing I've learned over the last couple of years is a Facebook post invariably prompts questions about city code and I should expect to get inquiries often from the public.  To explain what appears to be a discrepancy between the city code on sheds and the height of the building in the picture, a reference to an earlier section of the City Code is provided below.  Note, also that the city paperwork shows code enforcement reviewed and approved the building.
 
City Code
 

 
Thus the original Facebook post provided a good reason to look at the city code and highlight one section that could be confusing.   

For those of us that find it interesting to look at code and make sure that it makes sense it also brings up the question if it is written clearly enough.  In this case not only is the height issue confusing, it seems peculiar that city code 1191.04 specifically limits the number of accessory buildings on a R or A zoned lot to one per lot if that accessory building is a shed of 12 ft X 12 ft and has a height of 8 feet or less, but the code (1191.01) allows multiple 12 by 12 accessory buildings on lots in R, A, B, P-PD or I zoned districts if the accessory buildings are between 8 feet and 14 feet tall.   

I suspect there are residents in the city that are interested in knowing how the city code works and in fact one resident did volunteer that he had approached the city previously on this very issue and received this response:

Umm I was told 1 shed 12x12x8 (no permit) but multiple accessory buildings providing proper separations and setbacks, as long as no more than 50% of your properly is cover with buildings or concrete/asphalt.
 
In the whole scheme of solving the puzzle of how the city works, this is the kind of feedback that is interesting because it is likely that this is what was told but it is not obvious that it complies with City Code 1121.02 (cited above). The fee schedule in City Code 1121.02 specifically calls for a $30 Zoning Certificate fee for the construction of a Storage Shed.  So is it possible that there is no permit required but a fee is required?  Here we can again look to the Facebook post and see that a Zoning Certificate is applied for before construction begins and an Occupancy Permit is issued after the city inspects the finished structure.

 


Now looking at City Code 1125.02  ZONING CERTIFICATES AND OCCUPANCY PERMITS we see a lot of what needs to be done to go from a Zoning Certificate to getting an Occupancy permit.  The interesting thing is this section doesn’t seem to exempt sheds from getting an occupancy permit.  In fact, section (e) states: “Prior to occupying any new or existing nonresidential building or structure or any land in the case of land uses, an occupancy permit shall be secured from the Director of Planning and Zoning or designee by the owner or his agent.  …”. 

For those that like solving puzzles and are interested in discussing the complexities of the city code to see if the implementation makes sense in terms of what is written, I appreciate your input on these questions:
  1. Can we find something in the City Code that indicates Sheds are exempt from getting a permit?
  2. What city code limits the area of your property being covered by buildings and concrete to less than 50%?
  3. Does it make sense to allow only one 8-foot-high 12 x 12 accessory building in a residential area but allow multiple 12 x 12 accessory buildings that are between 8 and 14 feet high?
  4. Why do you think sheds are called out as a specific form of accessory building?  Could this part of the code be clarified?
Together, through conversation that is thoughtful and shows respect, those of us with inquisitive minds can learn from each others experiences and move the city forward.  Thanks in advance to those that participate. 

Rating

Unrated
Rating:
Edited