XENIA — City council Feb. 14 turned down a text amendment to the land development code that would have reverted setbacks for detached garages and carports back to pre-2016 requirements.
Previously the required setback was three feet for all structures, but in 2016 as part of the ShapeXenia process, garage and carport setback was increased to 10 feet, in part to provide more of a buffer and reduce a building’s visual impact on adjoining properties.
The change ordinance discussed Thursday was initiated by councilmember Levi Dean at the request of resident Cody Brannum, who had a request for a variance to construct a 24 by 30 foot square shed four feet from his property line on Colorado Drive denied by the Xenia Board of Zoning Appeals.
The planning and zoning department — which recommend denying the variance — cited the failure to meet seven of eight variance requirements as the main reason for turning it down.
During the Jan. 10 council meeting, Dean made a motion to change the setback to three feet. Council was informed by the city’s law and planning departments that per the city charter, such a change could only be made after public hearings at a planning and zoning commission meeting as well as a council meeting. Planning and zoning — an advisory board — voted 3-1 to recommend denying the change. Council voted 4-2 with one abstention to deny the change as well. Dean and councilmember Dale Louderback voted for the change, while Dr. Edgar Wallace abstained.
Louderback told City Planner Brian Forschner that while he agrees with much of the city code he also applies common sense and looks at all issues on a case-by-case basis.
“Why do we have to go through all this crap,” he said to Forschner. “You mentioned several times in the X-Plan is to make it user friendly, user friendly business friendly. This to me, this case is not business friendly. That’s why were not growing our tax base. We’re running people out of Xenia.”
Councilmember Wes Smith, who serves as the non-voting chair of the planning and zoning commission, said it’s not a “lot of crap.”
“There’s a process we have to go through and it’s called the right steps,” he said. Smith added that if the council consistently goes against the recommendations of the advisory boards they should do away with them.
Had the text amendment been approved, the setback would have changed for every residential property in Xenia, which concerned councilmember Will Urschel.
“Going to three feet everywhere is not good for our community,” he said.
During the BZA hearing it was suggested that Brannum could compromise and request a variance for a smaller garage, but Brannum disagreed with that notion.
“Absolutely not,” he said in an email. “They wanted me to downsize the garage and keep the same setback. There was no compromise on the city’s part. It was a compromise at the homeowners expense. The city needs to open their eyes and realize that they need to start compromising for the greater good of citizens of Xenia to keep the tax base in house instead of pushing citizens away to neighboring townships and cities.”
Brannum, who has a large crew cab truck, said he needs the larger garage and smaller setback to be able to maneuver it inside as well as preserve more green space in his yard.
There was also an issue of a Dayton Power and Light easement along the back property yard. DP&L originally said it could not allow the structure to be built on the easement, but according to BZA member Matt Burrell, the company would allow the building if it was seven feet off the back of the property.
Because the BZA is a quasi-judicial body, Brannum’s only recourse would be legal action unless he decides to build a smaller garage and request another variance.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.