This is the time of the year we start to execute those plans we spent the winter thinking about… that kitchen remodeling; a home addition; or a major change to your domicile.  As most of us are aware, there are city ordinances concerning such changes.  You may ask, “Why?”  “What concern is it to the city?”  To answer these questions, I will feature one important provision of the city zoning regulations. 

Let me first provide a background leading to answering the questions.  With this year’s presidential election, there is more emphasis and discussion of candidates’ experience at all levels.  We hear more “I want to serve the people.”  “I have been in public service for X number of years.”  Yes the republic-democracy form of government practiced throughout the good ol’ USA is designed to give control to citizens.  I did say designed.  Your city government was formed to provide services desired by the citizens not appropriate at the state/federal levels.  In last year’s Chronicle (June ’07), I reviewed why your city exists.  There are three functions the city performs:  1) safety of individual citizens and their property (police); 2) protection of citizen’s property values (land use and building codes); and 3) environmental protection (trash and pollution).  If you wish more information about the functions listed in the June ‘07 Mayor’s Corner, call city hall. 

            With that, lets look at number 2 – protection of property values.  Chapter 405 of the city ordinance code is Zoning Regulations.  Its stated purpose is developing land usage of Clarkson Valley be in an orderly manner preserving the characteristics of the City as to lot sizes (minimum one acre), construction, reconstruction of building as to size, height, etc.  Thus maintaining the characteristics of the City.  An important example: there are building lines on each property that are 75’ front yard, 50’ rear yard and 25’ side yards from the appropriate property lines. 

            Let’s assume this year is the year to make that addition to your home.  The ordinances on zoning I just discussed may affect your decision regarding height, size, etc.  So you can see why it is necessary to have your plans reviewed before starting to ensure compliance.  I hope it’s obvious these provisions are to protect you and your neighbor’s property values. 

            After review of your plans, should the building commissioner determine you are in violation of an ordinance, i.e. the proposed addition goes outside your property’s building lines, you will be requested to make the necessary adjustments.  If however, you are convinced the addition, if denied, will cause a particular hardship for your family, you can appeal the decision.  The basis for an appeal is your belief that this restriction places unusual practical difficulties or a particular hardship on you, therefore you are requesting relief from this decision.  This appeal goes to the Board of Adjustment.  This Board is comprised of citizens with no affiliation with city government.  They will hear the appeal and make a decision.  

            Now that’s probably more than you wanted to know.  But if you got this far and you’re still reading – here is the point:  Ordinances are for your protection!  If you believe there are ordinances that are unnecessary or are not being administered fairly, let’s talk.  Call me at 636-394-8916.  Remember, you, the citizen need to be – and we want you to be – in charge.