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City tells homeowner to move carport
carport rejected.jpg
McMinnville homeowners seeking a safe and convenient place to park their vehicles by constructing a carport must obtain a permit from the city’s Community Development Department to ensure proper placement. Pictured is a carport that was wrongfully placed four months ago without a permit. It must be relocated.

A McMinnville homeowner has been denied a permit and must move a carport that was placed without proper permission.

The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals met Wednesday and denied a variance request that would have allowed homeowner Gerardo Guzman to keep a carport that was placed in violation of the city’s Zoning Code. 

“Mr. Guzman has placed a 20 by 18 prefab carport over his driveway,” said city planner Katie Kemezis. “The R-1 zoning code requires that carports be five feet from the property line. He’s asking for a variance to reduce the five-foot setback down to zero.” 

The carport was placed approximately four months ago. It is located on a concrete driveway with its side located on the property line between his home and a neighbor. 

Homeowners are required to obtain a permit prior to placing a carport. Guzman did not.

“If you had gotten a permit, you would have known that you couldn’t do that,” said board member Jerry Williamson. “You were supposed to get a permit.”

Guzman indicated he understands the situation.

“I don’t want to open a can of worms, but we have properties on Cascade Drive in the same situation,” said board member Jim Brock. 

In November, board members approved a variance request for a carport on Allen Drive that was placed without a permit and in violation of the city’s Zoning Code. 

Kemezis urged members to go by that code in making their decision.

“It puts staff in a really awkward position going forward. Obviously, it’s our opinion if it meets the standards for a variance. If we start saying yes when it’s not one of the nine reasons for allowing a variance, it becomes hard to defend. I feel like we’d be getting into a slippery slope.” 

When granting a variance, said Kemezis, it is important board members base their decision on the standards set out in the Zoning Code to avoid appearing inconsistent. 

 “I understand what you’re saying,” said board member Joey Haston. “It’s hard for you to do your job, but since I’ve been here, we’ve probably passed some. Where do you stop?” 

Kemezis replied, “Do you solve a wrong with another wrong?”

“Are we going by the books from here on out?” asked Haston. “Is that what we’re going to do?”

Williamson stated, “Five foot isn’t much to stay off of. I guess we should respect that. If we’re not going to start enforcing this, we need to change it and say you can build on the property line.” 

Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously rejected the variance request. Guzman will not be issued a permit. He must move the carport to a location where it is in compliance with the five-foot setback restriction. 

Upon reviewing the criteria for a variance, the Board of Zoning Appeals should determine the following are met:

The particular physical surrounding, shape, or topographic conditions of the specific property involved would result in a particular hardship upon the owner as distinguished from a mere inconvenience, if the strict application of the zoning resolution were carried out;

The conditions upon which the petition for a variance is based would not be applicable, generally, to other property within the same zoning district;

The variance will not authorize, in a zone district, activities other than those permitted by the zoning ordinance;

Financial returns only shall not be considered as a basis for granting a variance;

The alleged difficulty or hardship has not been created by any person having an interest in the property after the effective date of the zoning code;

The granting of the variance requested will not confer on the applicant any special privilege that is denied by the zoning code to other lands, structures, or buildings in the same zoning district;

The variance is the minimum variance that will make possible the reasonable use of the land, building, or structure;

The granting of the variance will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to other property or improvements in the area in which property is located; and 

The proposed variance will not impair an adequate supply of light and air to adjacent property, substantially increase the congestion of public streets, increase the danger of fire, endanger the public safety, or substantially diminish or impair property values within the area.