Violating Setbacks: As Big as Texas

Pole Barn Guru Blog

I believe in as little government interference in what a person constructs on their own property, as possible.

The physical size of the state and the bigger-than-life attitude of some of its inhabitants has led to the saying “Everything is bigger in Texas.”

Among things which appear to be bigger in Texas are the size of the mole hill mbigger in texasounds made by neighbors who have taken issue with some Texas sized pole buildings.

This article by John Verser appeared in the Aransas Pass, Texas “The Ingleside Index”:

“To Art Foss, the large metal building at the corner of Live Oak and Anacua is akin to a pimple.

 Foss was one of three people that spoke out against the large metal buildings in residential neighborhoods during last Wednesday’s Ingleside on the Bay City council meeting.

 “Imagine this big red pimple on your forehead. You’ll eventually forget to do that or to think about that when you look in the mirror, but this pimple that was built over there on that corner is going to be there forever,” Foss said. “I don’t know how in the world you let him get by with violating the setbacks that were already established for that street.”

 Foss, his wife, Yvonne, and fellow IOB resident Larrine Rice all three spoke against allowing the large buildings in the city’s residential neighborhoods.

 Yvonne Foss said that although nothing can be done about the building across from their home, she hopes that speaking out will help prevent the large buildings from being built in other residential neighborhoods.

 “It’s as big as an airplane hangar and certainly not a normal-sized garage,” she said. “They don’t belong right in the middle of neighborhoods. In my opinion, they are ugly and bring down property values. I certainly would not buy (property) across the street or right next to one, or even on the same street. There are already at least six with no houses, and possibly being used to operate businesses.”

 According to ordinance 2012-05, setbacks for the principal residential building must not be nearer than 25 feet from the property line. They must also not be nearer than 10 feet to any side or rear property line. The ordinance states that out buildings, such as a garage, servant’s quarters, guest house or boat house detached from the principal residential dwelling and located on the rear one-third of the building site, may not be nearer than 10 feet from the side property line and four feet from the rear property line.

 The ordinance also states that the height of a new building cannot be taller than 33 feet above the street level plus in areas on or below the flood plain and 29 feet above street level in areas above the flood plain. The ordinance applies only to new buildings, and not buildings constructed prior to the ordinance being adopted in 2012.

 According to ordinance 2011-03, a detached building shall not be any nearer to the street than the front line of the wall of the primary resident and the front building line. It also states that it shall conform to all setbacks. The ordinance states that such a building may not be a business.

 “To call this two story, 2400 square feet building a garage is stretching it,” Art Foss said. “I mean, that’s totally ridiculous in my opinion. It doesn’t blend in with the neighborhood, it’s unsightly and it lowers the value of your property. I cannot imagine any reason for having a building like that in a residential neighborhood. It does nothing for the neighborhood. What I’d like to hear from each council member is how you justify letting him put this building 10 feet from the street when the other two houses on the street are set back the way they should be.”

 Members of the council could not comment on the item since it was not on the agenda. Those that spoke did so during “citizen participation” portion of the agenda.

 Rhoda Poenisch, a member of the city’s planning and zoning commission, said it was not exactly the garage she had in mind when it was approved.

 “I did ask about this building and I was told that it was a garage,” Poenisch said. “You know, I have in my mind what a garage looks like, so I didn’t have a problem with a garage being built there. It turned out that it wasn’t exactly the garage I had in mind. I think everybody needs to come (Thursday) and we can hash it out.”

 Poenisch suggested that the ordinance be discussed at Thursday’s meeting of the planning and zoning commission. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at city hall.

 Rice said the large building across from her Sunset Street home have affected property values.

 “Right across from us most of these years was a vacant lot. We’ve entertained horses in that lot. There was a period where we had three or four goats in that lot, and both of those items were delightful. Now we have a humongous ugly, ugly building,” Rice said. “It does happen to be of metal. But worse than that, it is a business in the very middle of a residential area. I resent it. I resent that our property values have sunk to rock bottom. It was not what it was claimed to be.”

 Wayne Jewell, who has owned one of the large metal buildings in town for about a decade, asked if it was an issue solely because the buildings were metal.

 “My question is, is it because it’s metal? Everybody keeps saying metal buildings,” he said. “If that was a wood-frame construction the exact same size, would there be as much squalling about it? I asked this recently when another building was built, and nobody really gave me much of an answer. If it’s metal versus stick frame construction (issue), that’s kind of iffy.”

 Both Art and Yvonne Foss asked that the issue be included on the April city council meeting agenda. Art Foss said he wanted the council members to respond on how the buildings could violate established setbacks without seeking a variance.

 “I don’t know of anything in that ordinance that allows him to just totally disregard the setbacks that had already been established for this neighborhood,” Art Foss said.

 “I’d like to hear exactly how y’all feel about the fact that he brought this building out 30 feet beyond the front of the next house,” he added. “Totally ridiculous. He didn’t even have a hearing or a variance request to do that. He was just allowed to do it. I’d like to know what’s in that other ordinance that allows him to do that.””

 After reading this article several times, the only item which may actually being an issue appears to be one of setbacks – which is up to the jurisdiction’s Planning Department to regulate.

New building owners in any neighborhood, not just those in Texas, can do their part to mitigate potential irritated neighbors who might have to park their goats and horses on their own land! By incorporating architectural features such as enclosed overhangs and wainscot, as well as the choice of colors which are not garish, can make a new pole building at home in nearly any neighborhood – even in Texas!

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