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Summit County Council Continues To Ponder Questions On Accessory Buildings

The Summit County Council on Wednesday returned to the topic of regulating accessory buildings.    

On Wednesday, County Development Director Pat Putt said they want to ask the county’s decision-makers just what is the problem with accessory buildings that they’re trying to address.

Council Member Malena Stevens told KPCW the issue for her is about a balance.         

“And what does that balance look like, between ensuring that neighborhoods are not being overrun with massive buildings, but also making sure that people are able to use their land in ways that they’re anticipating.    So with that, one thing that we spoke about in length yesterday is that it’s not just the size, it’s not just the height, it’s not just the number.   It’s a combination of those things.”

She said that parcels with accessory buildings, as in lower Silver Creek, can be a few acres or a hundred.  

The county is looking at a square footage limit of 12,500 square feet on a property.    Council Member Chris Robinson said that can be a downzoning if applied to a large parcel.      

“If you can do 12,500 square feet on a 435,000 square-foot parcel, in other words a 10-acre parcel, you’re looking at 4 percent coverage, or some very de minimus coverage.   Lot of people, including myself, own these larger parcels, allow the ability to spread out and have a gentlemen and gentlelady ranch or farm, to allow places to store things.    And I’m afraid we’re throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.”

Council Member Doug Clyde also noted that they’re looking at one proposed solution for a lot of different circumstances.      

“We are attempting to regulate all outbuilding uses under one section of the code.    And the outbuilding uses that we have, run everywhere, from residential to quasi-commercial, right?   That’s the problem.  We get into these big buildings with quasi-commercial uses, and they do become de facto riding arenas.  And people are teaching lessons out there.   And it does increase neighborhood traffic.”

He said that in some abusive cases of accessory structures, the problem evolved over time.       

“This is exactly how we back into bad land uses, every damn time, right?   A little bit, a little bit, a little bit.  “Well, it’s just my uncle who was staying there, I’m not really renting it, right?   And yeah, I know that horse doesn’t belong to me, and sure they give me some money, but it’s not really commercial.”  And now we’ve got something out there that looks like, it looks like a piece of wreckage from Guadalcanal, for crying out loud, in some blown-up Quonset hut.   It’s bad stuff.”

The County Council in March enacted a six-month moratorium on new accessory buildings.    But now there’s the issue of what happens this summer to residents who want to build.

Council Chair Glenn Wright said it’s looking like they won’t come up with a solution anytime soon.     But Robinson said some applicants are anxious that an entire building season is getting squandered.

Malena Stevens said the group discussed modifying the Temporary Zoning Ordinance, and they will look at the idea further in the next few weeks.

Also, they are planning a driving tour through lower Silver Creek to gain some understanding of the problem.

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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