Code change will allow taller buildings in county

A pair of building ordinances melded into one Monday will allow builders to put up taller houses in Island County.

The ordinances were combined by the Board of Island County Commissioners, an action that Planning Director Phil Bakke called a "technical correction." That make it possible to build a house taller than normally allowed, if a homeowner is willing to have a smaller house footprint.

Previously, the ordinance incorporating site coverage variance standards into the county's zoning code was independent of the ordinance that incorporated height variances into that code. Both ordinances were adopted Jan. 7.

Bakke said the ordinances originally were taken under separate consideration because it was uncertain if both would pass. He said the amendment changes nothing, but only consolidates the two variance standards into one code.

"The only reason why we did it is we had two ordinances under review concurrently," Bakke said Monday. "We had to write them independent of one another, and in order for the code to read appropriately, we had to merge it."

The new code applies to height variances allowed for new houses if they have increased setbacks on all property lines or to all sideyards. This means that if a home is built farther from the property lines or if all sideyards are enlarged, the builder may exceed the height limit by a given measure.

The requirements for height variation allowances regarding sideyard setbacks are as follows: Adding seven feet to all sideyards allows builders and homeowners an additional foot of building height. Nine feet earns two feet of additional height, 11-foot setbacks adds three feet to a variance, a 13- foot setback yields four feet, and 15 allows five extra feet of height.

The requirements for height variation allowances regarding property line setbacks follow a similar progression. Twenty-foot setbacks on all property lines allows a one-foot building height increase, 35 feet allows two extra feet, 50 feet equals three feet; 65- foot setbacks allow four feet of added height, and 80-foot setbacks allow five feet.

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