Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rolling Hills - Barn Conversion Policy on Ballot

Horse propertyThe City of Rolling Hills will be reviewing the policy on barns and barn conversions either via ballot measure or the council adopting the proposal.

How the issue came up from the Peninsula News article by Jeremiah Dobruck:

RH is entirely residential or undeveloped and is equestrian-friendly, with 26 miles of horse trails within its borders.

Horsekeeping and equestrian activities are encouraged by zoning. Property owners are required to set aside 1,000 square feet of their land to use as a barn or corral whether they build one or not.

Houses and all accompanying paving may take up only 35 percent of a lot. But a barn has none of those limits on square footage.

In 2007, the planning commission began looking into residents possibly taking advantage of that minimal control on barns. Some were converting barns, leaving them with a rural fa├žade, but no equestrian purposes inside.

"To build a barn, residents needed only to have the project administratively approved. Normally, a guesthouse or other structure would require a conditional use permit. But to convert a barn into another structure, it was just a matter of getting building permits, Tony Dahlerbruch, the city manager, said.

“People could avoid conditional use permit by applying for a barn and illegally converting it,” he said.

After that discovery, RH’s Planning Commission and City Council spent three years investigating, framing and tweaking an ordinance intended to stop the conversions while still encouraging barns.

In July 2010, the city did away with over-the-counter approval for barns more than 200 square feet, and barns were explicitly required to be used for keeping animals or storage. The ordinance did stipulate that a tack room of up to 40 percent of the structure could be used for other passive activities but not used as a guesthouse.

From a real estate prospective, we always prefer to see fully permitted work regarding any property conversions. The proposal can be put on the 2013 ballot (the 2011 deadline was missed) or the city council can adopt it sooner.

Norma Toering - REMAX Palos VerdesNorma Toering & Team RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty
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