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IS IT A FENCE OR A BUILDING? 8-20-14 LMS

Alan Aldous appeared before the Salmon City Council August 20 to appeal a decision by City Planning and Zoning Administrator Dan Maiyo.

Aldous explained that he had built a roof over his property-line woodpile using the fence as a support for the small shelter which extends inward onto his property. He said the fence is under the six foot height requirement however, Mr. Maiyo had come by and told him that according to city code there can’t be a structure within ten feet of the property line. He was asked to stop building until the question is settled, which Aldous did.

Aldous told the council he would like to keep the shelter because it looks good, the neighbors approve of it saying it looks better now than it did before and it does not restrict views. He said County Building Inspector Gary Goodman measured the roof and found it to be smaller than what comes under building code regulations. Aldous said it certainly looks better than a blue tarp and that he is just asking for some common sense.

Councilman Fred Waidely said the cover is well built, has eye appeal and is not enclosed on all four sides.

The issue quickly became of question of whether the covering attached to the fence is a part of the fence or is a building. A fence can legally be on the property line but a building has to have a ten foot set-back. Maiyo told the council he has classified the woodpile covering as a structure since a structure is defined as any building that shelters any use. He said even if it is exempt from needing a building permit it is not exempt from set-back codes.

City Attorney Fred Snook brought up the question of granting a variance and Maiyo quoted a variance as only being applied in cases where there is a unique characteristic which prevents development of the property.

Council President Jim Baker said it is a building and the council has to abide by city building codes unless it wants to go through the process of changing them. He said this is the same problem as previously presented by carport set-backs which Councilman Jim Bockelman observed have since been grandfathered. Councilman Rob Jackson commented that the biggest issue of carport set-backs pertained to the operator having the visibility and room to safely back a vehicle out of the carport. He said his biggest question in this matter is, is it a structure or a cover over a woodpile?

Councilman Russ Chinske immediately responded, “I think it’s part of his fence.” He said there are times when the bureaucratic mumbo jumbo should be sidestepped.

The question was ultimately posed to Attorney Snook. He answered, “It looks like he extended the fence in, which he would have a right to do. I would have to say he could put a roof on a fence.\"

Chinske made a motion to accept Aldous’ appeal. It passed four to two with Baker and Bockelman voting against the motion.


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