East Bethel relaxes pole-shed rules

The East Bethel City Council made a change to its zoning ordinance at its June 4 meeting to make it possible for property owners on fewer than 3 acres to build a “detached accessory structure.”

City Administrator Jack Davis confirmed the city has received a steady trickle of requests for the change, among them two people at the meeting who encouraged the council to vote yes.

New pole barns or sheds must adhere to the city’s general guidelines regarding size and architecture. For example, the shed or barn size must be proportionate to the lot size – a half-acre site could have a 580-square foot structure, whereas a property of 3-5 acres would be allowed two 2,400-square-foot buildings. All the structures may have 14-foot sidewalls.

The members debated the wording about required architectural-design elements. Davis said the language was purposely broad and should not be too restrictive. The group agreed that the goal is to allow the structures but ensure they’re of quality construction, not all-tin shacks or primitive sheds.

The guidelines say a structure must incorporate a “finished design and color scheme that is coordinated and compatible” with the principal structure. Pole sheds must have at least two different ‘architectural-design’ elements which may include a window, an entry door, a façade with two different textures and landscaping.

The City Council took several other actions at its June 4 meeting:

• Approved an agreement with Verizon Wireless for the company to lease property and construct a 190-foot monopole cell tower on a 100-foot by 55-foot site at 2241 221st Ave. NE, for which it proposes to pay East Bethel $18,000 per year; the agreement is contingent upon the Planing Commission issuing a special-use permit and on the successful negotiation of the lease contract.

• Outlined a program by which low- and moderate-income households in Coon Lake Beach can receive assistance through a grant program to upgrade or replace septic systems that are not compliant or don’t work; the held an informational meeting at 7 p.m., June 12 at the Coon Lake Community Center.