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Planning commissioners finalize accessory dwelling recommendations


June 13, 2018

The Sweet Home Planning Commission last week voted to recommend approval of new rules for building or siting accessory dwelling structures within the city limits.

In 2017, the state legislature approved a new law, Senate Bill 1051, allowing homeowners to build a small accessory structure for use as a residence. It requires cities to allow one accessory dwelling for each detached single-family dwelling on a property. An accessory dwelling may be an interior, a detached or an unattached residential structure.

The law takes effect July 1.

Cities and counties may create clear and objective regulations guiding the siting and design of accessory dwelling units.

Planning commissioners have been discussing how to regulate them for several months. Community and Economic Development Director Jerry Sorte said he took their comments and discussion into account and drafted new regulations.

Following a public hearing during the commission’s regular meeting on June 4, the commission voted 6-0 to recommend approval to the City Council. Voting were Greg Stephens, Anay Hausner, Chairman Lance Gatchell, Henry Wolthuis, Eva Jurney and Edie Wilcox. Thomas Herb was absent.

The city received no comments about the regulations prior to the hearing, Sorte said.

No one appeared at the meeting to testify during the hearing.

Among specific regulations in Sweet Home is a requirement for an additional off-street parking space. If a home does not have the required number of spaces for the existing residential unit, it must bring the total to three to site or build an accessory dwelling unit.

A detached accessory dwelling unit is limited to 10 percent of the lot area or 864 square feet, whichever is smaller.

Inside, it may be up to 864 square feet of the floor area or 75 percent of the dwelling’s floor area, whichever is smaller. If the dwelling unit is from a conversion of a level or floor of an existing residence and will occupy the entire level, then it can exceed 864 square feet.

Roof pitch must be 3 feet for each 12 feet of width.

The accessory unit must be placed on a foundation that meets the requirements of the applicable building code.

The units also must meet zone setback requirements, height limits and lot coverage limits.

The Comprehensive Plan allows a density of 5.4 units per acre in low-density residential zones. Medium-density residential density allows nine dwellings per acre and high-density 35 multi-family units per acre.

“Staff believes that in order to comply with SB 1051, the city may apply the existing density requirements for single-family dwellings,” Sorte said in the findings of fact. “However, state law will require that the city permit at least one accessory dwelling unit per single-family dwelling.”

“I feel like we’ve been over this a lot,” Gatchell said.

Sorte said he caught the things the commission decided it wanted in the ordinance.

The other commissioners agreed and voted to recommend approval of the regulations to the City Council.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on ordinance revisions during its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 26. That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers behind City Hall.

For more information about the ordinance or accessory dwelling units, contact the Community and Economic Development Department at (541) 367-8113.

In other business, the commission:

n Approved a variance to the front property line setback for the Full Gospel Church of Sweet Home at its new location, 2331 Main St., the former site of Fred’s Hardware. The commission recently approved a conditional use permit to allow the church to use the property.

A 12-foot by 48-foot addition accommodating a kitchen and restroom facilities proposed in the plot plan for the conditional use permit encroached into the front setback, requiring a variance. It extends 12 feet along the front property line.

Along a straight section of Main Street, city staff did not identify any visibility issues that might result from approval, and Oregon Department of Transportation did not raise any concerns with the proposal. The setback from the property line is consistent with the existing building.

“It is likely that right-of-way for Main Street has expanded over time and reduced the front property line setback of the existing building on the property,” according to the staff report. “The physical circumstance that makes the property difficult to develop is the location of the existing church building.”

“I think it’s a reasonable request,” Stephens said. “I don’t have a problem with it.”

The commission voted 6-0 to approve the request.

n Heard an announcement by Hausner that she must resign effective June 24 because she is returning to school. Her class schedule will conflict with the Planning Commission’s schedule.

Those interested in applying to fill the vacancy should contact the city manager’s office at (541) 367-8969 or the planning office at (541) 367-8113.


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