Lawrenceville council votes to regulate accessory buildings

LAWRENCEVILLE - Lawrenceville homeowners who want to erect or construct accessory buildings on their property will have to follow new rules. They will also be required to obtain building permits.

The Lawrenceville City Council on Monday unanimously adopted amendments to the city's zoning ordinance that define accessory buildings and create regulations aimed at preventing them from becoming eyesores.

The amendments restrict accessory buildings in residential districts to one or two in number with a total maximum size of 400 square feet and a maximum height of 18 feet.

The buildings will have to be constructed of wood, masonry or stucco. The use of tarps, vinyl, plastic or PVC pipe will not be allowed in construction or for repairs.

Also, accessory buildings, defined as structures primarily used for storage of tools and yard maintenance equipment, can only be placed in backyards.

Developing regulations for accessory buildings was proposed by Councilman Mike Crow at the council's June meeting. For the past several months, the council tabled adopting the amendments as it continued to work on the wording.

"I don't want to deny anyone the opportunity to improve their property," Crow said. "But I certainly want to make sure it is architecturally pleasing."

The need to address the issue arose when a storage building was constructed in the rear yard of a double lot in full view of the street in Craigdale Estates. The city is taking legal action to require the homeowner to remove that building.

Crow assured residents, however, that most existing, nonconforming buildings will be grandfathered in.

The council had imposed and extended moratoriums on erecting or constructing accessory buildings since the June meeting. The moratorium has now expired, but homeowners will be required to obtain permits for accessory buildings from the city's planning department in the future.

There will be no charge if the buildings do not have utilities, Crow said. The normal permitting process and regular cost will apply if the accessory buildings have utilities, he said.

The new regulations do not apply to pool houses and dog houses.

The council added definitions and diagrams of front, rear and side yards to the city's zoning ordinance in July. The definitions are based on the placement of a home on its lot.