TALENT — Most accessory structures located along lot lines in town will now be legal, although henhouses won't be allowed in those areas.
The City Council recently adopted an ordinance amendment that permits the small buildings — such as tool or firewood sheds — along property side and rear boundaries as long as they are 40 feet back from any right of way. Structures on lot lines are common in the city and before now had violated setback requirements.
"This code makes nonconforming uses legal and allows flexibility on smaller lots," said City Planner Zac Moody. The Talent Planning Commission had recommended the changes.
"A lot of times what happened is, they'd go to Home Depot, buy the shed, they'd set it up. They didn't have any idea (they were in violation)," Moody said before the Nov. 20 meeting.
The City Council considered the issue for a second time after remanding a previous recommendation back to the commission in August. Council members expressed concerns about the number of structures allowed and their uses then.
"The Planning Commission came up with changes we hope will satisfy concerns," said Moody. "We had a lot of conversations among the planning commissioners and the public."
Provisions in the new code allow a maximum of 200 square feet of structures in the areas; prohibit housing livestock, poultry or bees there; and limit height to 10 feet and length to 20 feet. Total area on a lot that can be occupied by structures is set by other city codes.
Mayor Bill Cecil questioned the 40-foot setback requirement, saying it might make it difficult for individuals with smaller, narrower lots to accommodate the units.
"The idea is we don't want to see these accessory structures popping up in the front yards," said Moody. The rule would preclude the use of 10-by-20-foot, canvas-covered structures for sheltering a car in a front yard on a lot line, he said.
Setback requirements would also keep the structures from blocking access for fire or emergency crews to backyards, said Moody.
Planning commissioners likely will look at rules governing accessory structures and their uses elsewhere on properties early next year, Moody said.
Current regulations, for example, allow chickens in some zones but there is no prohibition against roosters. Zoning inconsistencies will ban chickens at one house but allow them at another.
No one spoke at a public hearing on the matter before council members voted. Public testimony had been given before the council and the Planning Commission previously. The council adopted the change on a unanimous 6-0 vote.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.