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'Quonset hut' ban stalls in Newton

March 14, 2011

A proposal to prohibit construction of new "quonset" huts in Newton not only missed the mark, if passed it can open the door to "quonset hut farms" in the city.

As a result, Newton City Council sent a zoning ordinance amendment concerning accessory structures back to city planners' drafting board.

Newton planning commission proposed a measure prohibits construction of accessory structures, including detached garages and carports in the front yard of a residential structure. The recommendation allows those types of buildings to be built in a side yard provided the building's size complied with certain proportionality requirements. In essence, an accessory building can't be larger than 30 percent of the size of the primary structure's first floor.

The height of accessory buildings was also limited to the height of the principle building's first floor, according to the proposal.

According to Newton planning commission minutes, the proposal originally arose out of appearance concerns about a metal corrugated building on North Ashe Avenue. The building, according to the minutes, was described as a "quonset hut."

However, while city planners aimed to curb such a creation on city residential lots, one Newton resident argued that the proposed zoning ordinance amendment failed to address appearance issues that spawned the change.

"I believe appearance was the primary driving concern," Newton resident William Powell said during a public hearing on the ordinance amendment earlier this month. "This does not, in any way, deal with the appearance factor. And in fact, the planning commission, even though they started out ... talking about appearance, the planning commission chose not to include architectural or appearance criteria in the ordinance."

While Powell commended city leaders for trying to "control certain things that do impact my land value," he said language in the ordinance could cause problems at a later time. He argued that under existing language, he can combine to land tracts and "start a quonset hut farm with multiple quonset huts" provided it met set-back requirements and complied with proportionality requirements of the proposal.

"If appearance is what motivated the conversation in the first place, you have done nothing with regards to appearance," he said. "That building could be rebuilt today, just smaller."

Council members conceded Powell's point, with Council member Wayne Dellinger citing additional issues related to large properties with agriculture-related buildings, such as barns or shelters.

"We have land where people have 25 acres if they have a 2,000--square-foot house and they are raising animals, I don't think they can build any (accessory structures) over 900 square feet," as the proposed ordinance states, Dellinger said, "but they could build 15-20 quonset huts on it. They could put as many as they want to."

"This is a situation where we are trying to help solve a problem, and we created more problems than what we have," he continued.

City Council sent the proposal back to the planning department with instructions to address lot size, tract size, number of accessory structures, appearance and whether farm use property has a bearing on additional buildings added to a residential lot in town.


Why have Rules when they arn't enforced?

March 15, 2011 by Seymore Beaver (not verified), 4 years 10 weeks ago
Comment: 245

I applaude the City Council for rejecting this new law for being placed in the books as we have plenty of zoning laws that are not enforced now.

Last month they phased in ordinances about parking in your front yard and I doubt those have been acted upon. There are ordinances about filth, ruined buildings, trash, etc. but rarely do you see anything done about it.

I smirk everytime I drive to the library and see at the corner of Ashe and Hwy 10 a car parked in the front yard of a residence there. Sure it is illegal but since no one ever passes that road it isn't seen. I mean nobody drives down highway 10 in Newton.

Rules are inforced on select people who the city dislikes or who are poor and cannot adequately defend themselves. Pay your bills on time, don't complain and you can get by with all of the zoning infractions you like; unless you vote against Lawing.


March 15, 2011 by LeeHarper (not verified), 4 years 10 weeks ago
Comment: 242

You mean to tell me that the city council took a stance against Glenn Pattishall? What is coming to this world? Careful research needs to be conducted and see why they decided to stand up now against Glenn and actually favor the common citizen.

This case illustrates that our zoning ordinances are being used as retaliation as someone doesn't like a garage built so they punish everyone to get revenge. This happens all to often here in Newton. You don't hear about it happening in Conover or Hickory.

I have been looking at a pre-fab garage to build on my lot that has a loft but since my house is a single story dwelling I couldn't build it. So the City and County will loose 30K in tax value.

I think the city council needs to instruct the zoning board not to create any new rules till there are three seperate documented cases regarding the type of complaint. This would keep zoning from being a weapon of the weak.


March 15, 2011 by Backbone (not verified), 4 years 10 weeks ago
Comment: 249

Aint this Pattishall dude or whatever his name is the guy who makes over $150 grand a year being the number 2 guy running the 2 horse town of Newton? Man that is a lot of money to shell out WHEN ONE OF THE FREAKIN HORSES IS SICK!

Time for some real analis analysis (well whatever, I am a public school grad.) of what and where our city money is spent (and when they talk about govt resources THEY MEAN THE INFLATED SALARIES OF THE GOVERNMENT MANAGERS i.e. pattishall or what ever!

Bill Powell is right on target....

March 15, 2011 by Backbone (not verified), 4 years 10 weeks ago
Comment: 241

Excuse me WILLIAM Powell. Anyway the issue is not the buildings that SUCCESFUL people want to build to store equipment and perform hobbies at their homes. There is NOTHING wrong with this. Build as big a "Yard Barn" or Quanset hut or freakin Castle or an Indian TeePee as you want. The deal is CLEAN UP THE CIty FROM THE DERELECT STRUCTURES AND for HEAVENS SAKE CLEAN UP THE "LATIN QUARTER" (EL PLAZA LATINO OR WHATEVER ITS CALLED) AND THE MEXICAN "JUKE JOINT" ON THE 1800 BLOCK OF NORTH MAIN AVE! My favorite example is the dubiously named "Red Love Shop"...the mind only can wonder!

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