Renovating just got tougher

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

If you were planning to convert that carport or garage into a man cave or a mother-in-law suite or a nursery for the new twins, better make sure you have a permit and a plan.

The Chiefland City Planning Board decided in its regular meeting Thursday night approved changing the method for issuing permits for enclosing carports and garages in R-1 and R-2 zones.

In the past, all a person had to do was apply for the building permit and they received it, even though city zoning law requires a carport or garage on homes in R-1 zones. Garages or carports are not required for R-2, but if there is one it also must meet the standards outlined for R-1 housing.

"Basically what we've been doing is legalizing and permitting a non-conforming use," said Planning Director Bill Hammond. "We're permitting somebody to do something we're not allowed to do."

From now on, permit applicants will have to appear before the planning board, give a reason for the enclosure or conversion, and detail how they will accommodate the loss of parking and storage.

Board member Lee Mills asked, "Do we feel it's necessary to have a carport or garage? If we do, do you have to build another?"

Hammond said residents have to have a place to park or they will have to get out in the streets. "And you have all the other stuff people accumulate, so they have to have somewhere to hide the stuff."

New board member Gene Pollock said, "You have got a lot of folks with parents that are getting old." He noted that enclosing a garage or carport is one way to accommodate moving in the parents.

Mills said he wanted to require an appearance before the board to assure, " If they can demonstrate they are not going to impose something unsightly with the neighbors or parking on the right of way."

The zoning for R-1 was changed to reflect that the garage and carport requirement is for "newly constructed" housing and in order to enclose it the homeowner will have to apply for a special use permit and brought to the board.

"Sometimes when you have to wrestle with this, you come up with something better," Mills said.