By Tony A. Archuleta
The Elephant Butte City Council and the Planning & Zoning Board have had their say on a proposed ordinance clarifying the definitions of accessory buildings and structures, and temporary/portable accessory buildings, structures and containers, and placing limitations on the numbers and sizes and locations of accessory buildings and structures.
During Wednesday’s, Nov. 7, first public hearing on the proposed ordinance, two city residents shared their comments.
The city council, in tandem with P&Z, is trying to shape an ordinance that best serves the city’s aesthetics, but still gives residents enough leeway to build garages, carports and the like to store RVs, boats and other watercraft in this lakeside town.
It’s been a tough balancing act, with several initial proposals already scrapped.
City Manager Alan Briley, the liaison between the council and P&Z on this ordinance, said the original intent was to discourage accessory buildings, such as garages that are three to four times larger than the primary dwelling structure.
Original proposals called for limiting accessory buildings to three per lot. Total accessory building coverage would be no more than 200 percent of the house, meaning a 2,000 square foot house would limit total accessory building square footage to 4,000 square feet.
But that was deemed too restrictive, so an amended proposal called for a maximum square footage of 2,500 for all accessory buildings.
The current draft ordinance simply states, “Not more than three accessory buildings or structures shall be permitted per lot except as a conditional use. The combined square footage of all buildings and structures, including the principal building or structure and all accessory buildings or structures, shall not exceed the limitations on lot coverage… Accessory buildings and structures shall not be located or extend toward the front property line beyond the front edge of the principal building.”
Another key provision of the proposed ordinance: “A metal shipping/storage container shall not be permitted as an accessory building or structure,” although there is a provision for a temporary/portable accessory building, structure or container.
Earl Lowe, the first resident to provide public input, said he has a permanently anchored shipping container on his property, but was later assured by Briley that any existing ones will be “grandfathered in.”
Jo Anderson, describing herself as a 33-year resident of the city, said she also has a non-portable shipping container on her property, but she was curious to know why the city is attempting to “micromanage” on this issue.
“I don’t understand why we’re spending time and money on this when it’s fine,” she said.