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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 09/11/13
accessory building rules
by CHRIS GRAYBruce Township residents may see changes in the size of the buildings that house their toys.
Observer Staff Writer
The Bruce Township Planning Commission will determine whether the zoning ordinance should be amended to accommodate changes in the size and uses of accessory buildings.
Commissioner and Board Representative Paul Okoniewski and Commissioner Marq Apel will bring a recommendation to the commission on Sept. 25.
At the commission's Aug. 28 meeting, Chairperson Mike Tremblay said a special land use request from a resident sparked the idea to re-visit the accessory building ordinance, saying it may be out of date.
"I'm not suggesting that we make a change, but maybe a couple people want to volunteer to take this off-line and maybe come back to the next meeting," he said.
Bruce Township's current ordinance limits accessory buildings in comparison to the size of the parcel. For property less than two acres, a building must not exceed 850 square feet. The square footage limit rises with the lot size, such as 1,700 on more than two acres, 2,000 on at least five acres and 2,550 for 10 to 15 acres.
Tremblay said when compared to other communities the township is on the lower end for larger lot sizes. He pointed out, though, that residents can seek additional square feet by pursuing a special land use request.
"The concern that we had when we first decided to talk about this topic was is if you grant a number of special land uses as exceptions to your ordinance, what good is your ordinance," Tremblay said.
Chris McLeod, the township's planning consultant, said accessory building uses have changed over time, from storing a lawnmower or car to housing "toys" like boats or RVs. More modern uses have included ideas like pool houses or landscaping.
"It's a matter of how much you want to accommodate that change," he said. "At some point you might have to say you have to store some of those things somewhere else."
The board is examining ordinances from surrounding communities such as Armada, Lenox, Ray, Shelby and Washington for possible changes. Okoniewski said the township doesn't necessarily have to conform to the surrounding townships, such as how Washington Township allows a 1,200 square foot building on less than two acres in addition to a garage.
"We based ours off of a progressive system based on the acreage," he said.
He did, however, suggest that Bruce's ordinance could not include a detached garage in the square footage in lieu of changing the limitations.
"That would give some people a little more flexibility," he said.
McLeod said the idea was feasible but the township would have to define the standards for a garage, which he said is typically a 750 square foot structure.
He said the concern with accessory buildings becoming larger is their uses. As an example, he said larger buildings can become a machine shop or even a second residence. The ordinance prohibits residential or business use.
"With accessory buildings there is no right answer, it's just what your expectations are," he told the commission.