Planners talk about cloth structures 2016.01.27

 By DAVID GREEN

Morenci Planning Commission members aren't saying they're opposed to temporary fabric-covered structures, but they are concerned about them becoming permanent fixtures.

Planners wrapped up conversations spanning several meetings by voting on language to pass on to city council for its consideration.

Zoning code administrator Ben Oram told the commission that he expects problems if canvas buildings are allowed to be erected unchecked. He sees the issue as a growing concern.

"Eventually they're going to be falling apart and some people won't repair them," he said. "I've heard people wondering if their neighbor got a permit to put one up, but we haven't even defined them yet."

City administrator/clerk Michael Sessions said that he realizes the structures create an inexpensive form of storage, but complaints have been lodged with concerns about decreasing property values.

The fabric structures are typically smaller than 200 square feet which is the limit, by state law, for requiring a building permit.

A proposed ordinance would allow the structures if they were used as a seasonal sun-shading purpose, or for other purposes if not used for more than three days a year in coordination with a yard sale. This would prohibit the use of a fabric building for a garage for sheltering a vehicle.

Only three days a year sounded too restrictive to Chipper Connin, but Jeff Bell said his reading of the ordinance would not limit use to three days a year, but rather to increments of three days at a time.

Oram suggested allowing them for three days once a month and that sounded good to Connin.

The intent, said commissioner Art Erbskorn, is not to prohibit them but to slow them down.

Bell offered new wording to incorporate the changes: An accessory building made out of canvas or fabric shall be allowed to stand a maximum of one three-day period in a calendar month. No permit is needed when used in conjunction with a yard sale.

Sun-shielding fabric structures are allowed on patios, porches and decks.

The proposal will be passed along to city council.

All five members present—Bell, Connin, Erbskorn, Robb Sweet and Sean Seger—voted in favor. Members Brad Webster and Kay Holubik were absent.

MASTER PLAN—A few changes in land use might be in order before wrapping up work on the master plan, Sessions said, such as changing the zoning of the funeral home from C-3 (highway commercial). A residential neighborhood isn't the place for C-3 zoning, he suggested.