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    12.    
City Council Regular
Meeting Date: 04/16/2019  
Subject:    Open Mic Response - Mr. Jeffrey Baumann
From: David Brodie, City Attorney

INTRODUCTION
Mr. Jeffrey Baumann of 10452 Mississippi Boulevard NW appeared at the Open Mic portion of the April 2, 2019 City Council meeting to question staff's intrepration that an attached garage is an accessory structure under City Code.
DISCUSSION
At the April 2nd Council meeting, Jeff Baumann (10452 Mississippi Street NW) appeared at open mic questioning staff’s interpretation of City Code that an attached garage in a LDR-1 zoning district cannot be taller than the height of the principal residence.  Mr. Baumann suggested that City Code provides that an attached garage is part of the principal structure and is not subject to the height limitations on accessory structures.  Staff’s interpretation is that an attached garage is an accessory structure under City Code and is not part of the principal structure.  Given that Mr. Baumann has not formally applied for building permit and that an open mic response would not be the appropriate forum to respond to a specific application, the following is intended to be a general response on whether attached garages can be taller than the height of the principal residence in the LDR-1 zoning district.
 
Staff have always interpreted that City Code provides that an attached garage is considered an accessory structure.  Garages are defined in City Code as accessory portion of the principal structure under 11-201.  Staff’s interpretation of 11-201 is that attached garages are not in fact the principal structure as suggested by Mr. Baumann.  A garage by its very nature is supposed to be accessory and subordinate to the primary use – a residential dwelling in this case.  Further in the general standards for residential zoning, 11-601.7 Restrictions on Accessory Structures provides that an accessory structure shall not:
  1. Be constructed on any lot prior to the time of construction of the principal building.
  2. Exceed the height of the principal building, except when on a farm and related to a farming operation.
  3. Be located within the required front setback area or within five feet of a lot line.
  4. Be located nearer to the front lot line than the principal building. This provision does not apply to attached garages or to those lots which have the shoreline of the Mississippi River or Crooked Lake as the rear lot line.
11-601.7.1(b) provides that an accessory structure shall not exceed the height of the principal building.  This is the provision that is being questioned.  The only exception to the height restriction is for accessory structures located on a farm.  In 11-601.7.1(d) accessory structures are prohibited from being located nearer to the front lot line than the principal building.  City Code does provide that this limitation does not apply to attached garages.   It’s clear from this exception that that Code intended that attached garages are accessory structures or it would not have been necessary to create the exception in (d) for attached garages.  Further in both LDR-1 and LDR-2 City Code limits “each single family dwelling or twin home lot is permitted up to 1,600 square feet, or 2,000 square feet for lots one acre or more, of attached/detached garage storage space and other detached accessory structures.”  This further shows the intent of Code to include attached garages as accessory structures. 
 
Staff believes the intent of the applicable zoning code sections is to help ensure that an attached garage (or detached garage) is in the proper size and scale relative to the principal structure.  As previously stated garages by their very nature are supposed to be accessory and subordinate to the primary use – a residential dwelling in this case.  There are very clear standards for the size, height and setbacks of an attached garage (accessory use/structure) to preserve the residential character of the lot and the surrounding neighborhood.
RECOMMENDATION
This item is for informational purposes and no specific recommendation is being made at this time.

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