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Snyderville Planning Commission Recommends Amendments on Accessory Building Code

Snyderville Basin Planning Commission

The Snyderville Planning Commission Tuesday night unanimously voted to recommend a set of Snyderville code amendments on accessory buildings.


The code amendments are being proposed since Basin residents in recent years have expressed concerns about the impacts of accessory buildings, the number that are allowed on properties, and the concern they may morph into commercial uses.


About two weeks ago, the Summit County Council approved a six-month moratorium on new accessory buildings.


The proposed amendments, said the county staff, aim to ensure that accessory buildings are subordinate to the principal building on a lot. They set size limits and other restrictions in two categories: minor accessory buildings and major buildings.


A public hearing on the proposed amendments drew comments from only two citizens. 


However, Old Ranch Road resident Debi Scoggan had several concerns. She presented photos of two properties in her neighborhood that, she said, show accessory buildings are getting out of control.


“Rural residential zoning says one house per 5 acres or 10 acres,” she said. “We rely on that zoning when purchasing our homes, and spending money to enhance and maintain them well into the future. However, by allowing the proliferation of these outbuildings, the zoning doesn’t look like it is intended to look. All you see is a sea of rooftops. From the community’s point of view, one residential house and three outbuildings is still four rooftops. This flies in the face of our zoning mandates, which were put in place to protect our sense of place and open space.”


Scoggan said that multiple outbuildings on a property should be clustered and tucked in as close as possible to the primary building there.


She added that lights in accessory buildings intrude on the night sky; and the buildings exacerbate the problem of storm-water runoff. Scoggan said there should be landscaping to shield the buildings.


She added that the proposed amendments should go further to restrict accessory structures.


“They’re an end-run around the zoning law,” she said. “The square-footage amendments being offered for minor accessory buildings are way too generous—onerous to the community sense of open space and zoning, and not necessary. I urge you to greatly scale down the footage on all the minor and major accessory buildings, or outlaw these buildings altogether. I got rid of stuff and I didn’t put a storage thing out. I just scaled down. Most of these people have three-car garages. When is enough, enough?


A resident of Silver Creek also spoke, saying her neighborhood has seen buildings that aren’t proportional to lot size. She said the county needs to implement a human scale in the structures.


The amendments are now moving forward to the Summit County Council, which has scheduled a public hearing next week on Wednesday, March 31.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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