Coon Rapids council permits larger accessory structures

Contributing Writer

Coon Rapids residents living on lots 1 acre or more in size will have more accessory structure space under an ordinance approved by the Coon Rapids City Council June 20.

The ordinance increasing the maximum square footage applies to both low-density residential 1 and 2 zoning districts where lot sizes are 1 acre and greater.

Under the ordinance, the maximum square footage of accessory structures, whether detached or attached, will increase from the current 1,600 square feet to 2,000 square feet.

According to Planner Scott Harlicker, the original proposal presented to the Coon Rapids Planning Commission was an increase to 1,800 square feet, but the council at a work session asked staff to revise the propose ordinance adding another 200 square feet to 2,000 feet.

“The additional 200 square feet would give residents extra space to ensure that possessions could be stored under cover and not in the open,” Harlicker said.

When the amended ordinance was brought back to the Planning Commission, no one spoke at the public hearing and the commission unanimously recommended approval at its May meeting.

Maximum square footage for accessory structures on low-density residential 1 and 2 lots less than an acre in size will remain at 1,600 square feet, but with language changes.

The ordinance adopted in 2002 allowed a 1,200-square-foot detached or attached accessory structure plus 400 square feet of smaller (less than 200 square feet) freestanding accessory structures, while the new ordinance merely states that a 1,600-square-foot maximum of attached or detached accessory structure must not exceed 80 percent of the finished floor area of the house.

That 80 percent of finished floor area also applies to the new 2,000-square-foot maximum for lots 1 acre or more, and when the council introduced the ordinance at its June 6 meeting, there was discussion about how to verify and administer that requirement and how much of the house should be counted toward the 80 percent.

According to Harlicker, staff has not had any interpretation issues with the current 80 percent threshold standard, which includes basements, whether finished or unfinished, but not crawl space.

While Council Member Brad Johnson supported the proposed ordinance, he wanted the council to have further discussions at a future work session on the 80 percent finished floor area requirement because he said it could produce “inequities” between neighboring homes in whether they would be eligible for the square-footage increase that would be “fundamentally unfair.”

Council Member Wade Demmer believes the ordinance solves the problem “for right now,” but he said he was open “going back and looking at other issues.”

Mayor Jerry Koch and Council Member Brad Greskowiak agreed with Johnson.

But Council Member Jenny Geisler said that if the council was to talk about this issue in the future, it needed to see some specific case studies to “determine whether a problem actually exists.”