BERRIEN SPRINGS — It doesn’t solve everything, but a new proposed Oronoko Township ordinance will go a long way toward solving issues related to accessory storage buildings.
Oronoko Township Planning Commissioners voted Tuesday to recommend approval of the proposed new ordinance to the township board. The planning commission held a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday and heard no comments.
A planning commission subcommittee has been meeting off and on for more than a year to study the issue. The issue came up initially when Building Official Rich Kubsch reported that numerous property owners were putting up large storage buildings that were not affixed to the ground.
Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Lemon noted that the proposed new ordinance didn’t in the end change the definition of an accessory building, but did add language about securing buildings to the ground and changed the rear property line setback requirements.
Kubsch said the proposed new ordinance standardizes the rules so that the 10-foot rear setback is for all zoning districts. It had been 50 feet in agricultural zoned areas and 25 feet in residential zoned areas. “It gives people a little more flexibility,” he said. “The side yard setback is already 10 feet.”
Commission Vice Chairman Eric Stoub said he’s still not convinced that there has to be the same setbacks in the different zoning districts, given the differences in lot sizes between agricultural and residential districts, but said the committee decided to keep the rear setback at 10 feet to make it consistent.
The new language about securing buildings to the ground states that “all accessory buildings or structures shall be secured to the premises by an anchoring system approved by the Building Official, sufficient to retain the building/structure in place during high wind conditions.”
“Before, sheds that are being sold could blow into the next property’s yard unless they were full,” Stoub said. “At the same time, these structures are getting bigger. Some are as big as a two-car garage and at some point they need to be tied down.”
The proposed ordinance keeps the rules the same relative to the height of such buildings/structures – they can be 20 feet in height and one and a half stories – and they cannot occupy more than 30 percent of the area of the yard where they will be located.
Lemon noted that the planning commission didn’t end up addressing everything they initially wanted to. They had originally looked at addressing aesthetic issues related to accessory storage buildings, but ended up not doing so.
“That’s hard to do,” he said.