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3 Colorado Springs homeowners appealing order to remove front yard carports

CARPORT2

UPDATE: Thursday, Nov. 19 -- The Colorado Springs Planning Commission voted to deny appeals from two neighbors who were cited for having carports that violate city code.

The neighbors -- Collette Cook and Robert Gallagher -- have a final option of appealing to the City Council and both plan to do so. If they lose that appeal, they'll have to remove their carports.

The city said that as of Thursday, 38 people have pending carport code violations.

"The commission voted against us but we have a lot of support," Cook said. "One of the commissioners even said that he's going to ask the City Council to do something about this because it doesn't just affect us. It affects a lot of people."

The neighbors live on Nolte Drive. A third cited neighbor, Michael Mednansky, will appeal at a future commission meeting. He's also applying for a variance that would allow him to keep his carport -- even though such variances are rarely granted.

PREVIOUS STORY: Wednesday, Nov. 18

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Carports are helpful in protecting vehicles from hail and other weather extremes, but at least one resident in an east central neighborhood believes the structures are a nuisance.

The unidentified neighbor recently filed a complaint about carports at three homes on Nolte Drive, just southwest of the intersection of Powers Boulevard and Airport Road, saying that the structures violate city code by being unsightly and too close to the sidewalk and the street.

"I'm a veteran who served my country," said Robert Gallagher, one of the affected carport owners. "I pay my taxes and they're saying I can't have a carport protecting my own vehicles on my own property? That doesn't sit right with me."

Michael Mednansky, another affected carport owner, isn't pleased with the situation, either.

"I paid $2,000 to get this carport after the really big hailstorm that hit us in 2016," he said. "The storm totaled all three of my vehicles and caused about $50,000 worth of damage to my home."

Mednansky said that he will try to obtain a variance allowing him to keep his carport, but was told variances are rarely given.

Mitch Hammes, of the city's Neighborhood Enforcement office, said that the carports violate a 25-foot setback requirement that prohibits a carport from being a certain distance between a sidewalk and a house.

Hammes said that having a carport outside of the setback area can reduce visibility and become a safety hazard for pedestrians, passing drivers and even the carport owner.

A carport in violation of city code, Hammes added, also sticks out like a sore thumb and subtracts from the natural or intended beauty of a neighborhood.

"We don't actively drive around looking for carports in violation," he explained. "We investigate only if there is a complaint. It's commonly believed that people have carports because they don't have garages, but in most cases they have both. It's just that they may use garages for something else. We recommend that people park their cars in their garages. Or contact us if you have a question or concern about your carport."

Hammes said that the city normally receives 5 to 10 complaints monthly regarding carports that may be in violation of code.

The third affected owner, Collette Cook, said that the carport regulations are senseless and unfair.

"There are 27 other carports in the neighborhood," she said. "Why are we being singled out?"

Hammes said that in the interest of fairness and to avoid targeting one carport owner, officers drive around the neighborhood where a complaint was filed to look for other possible violations.

"That's how the three were cited in this case," he said.

Neighborhood Enforcement has issued violation notices to the three affected carport owners to remove the structures, but the owners have appealed to the city's planning commission. A hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

And the situation may be worse that first thought.

On Wednesday night, Hammes confirmed that as many as 40 more people across the city have received violation notices and said he would update the situation Thursday.

"We've had a dramatic increase of complaints about carports in the past two weeks," he said. "They're all in the initial stages. We don't know yet how many will agree to remove their carports and how many will appeal."

Chris Stewart emailed KRDO NewsChannel 13 after the 5 p.m. story aired, saying that an entire block of Dogwood Drive -- where he lives -- wants to appeal their notices.

"We got six on our block this week," he said. "Our (notices) say (that) we can pay $290 for a variance but when we emailed, the guy said (that) none has been approved in three years."

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

26 Comments

  1. “Powers Boulevard and Airport Road” “subtracts from the natural or intended beauty of a neighborhood”

    1. “Carports and Garages
      Carports and garages are allowed within any zone district as an accessory use, but only in connection with a principal use (a garage or carport may not be built without a principal structure, such as a home). A maximum of 1,200 square feet of garage space is allowed per single-family residence, unless a storage space of 450 square feet is incorporated. Garages in connection with single-family residences are limited to have garage doors for no more than 4 cars. For multi-family dwellings, a maximum of 600 square feet per unit with garage doors for no more than 2 cars is allowed. If the detached garage is located adjacent to an alley and the garage doors face the alley, it must maintain a 10 foot setback from that property line no matter what the zone district in which it is located.”

      Here is the municipal code. The only mention of distance from property line is discussed as “Detached”. Clearly you have this attached to your residence, so the distance should not apply to this ordinance.

      There is no mention of “subtracts from the natural or intended beauty of a neighborhood” in the ordinance which does not surprise me as this is abstract and arbitrary basis of opinion, ergo not a basis of a legal standard. Unless you live within a covenant community, I don’t see a leg for the city to stand on regarding this complaint.

        1. “Mitch Hammes, of the city’s Neighborhood Enforcement office, said that the carports violate a 25-foot setback requirement that prohibits a carport from being a certain distance between a sidewalk and a house.”

          Provide the municipal ordinance that states this, because this information I supplied is what Colorado springs building and planning has listed on their website to notify the public what the criteria is, and if it is out of date and has not been updated by your facility, can you explain how that is these defendant’s fault?

          1. I was wondering about that. But it makes sense to enforce ordinances that are real, and it appears to me that these carports may all violate the setback rules for front yards in general. What you quoted above only relates to setbacks in back yards.
            .
            The page you referenced includes the following:
            “General Information: Accessory Structures
            The accessory structure provisions in the City Code can be found in Section 7.3.105. Accessory structures are not allowed within the front or side yard setbacks of any property. The specific setback measurements depend on the zone district in which your property is located. To find your zone, consult Property Zoning or call the Land Use Review Division.”
            .
            It also includes the following disclaimer:
            “This page is not meant to cover absolutely every facet of the accessory structure code. Before undertaking your building project, contact the Land Use Review Division to make absolutely sure you have not overlooked a regulation.”
            .
            So unless homeowners did their homework, they could find themselves in violation. And it’s their responsibility as homeowners to investigate BEFORE erecting a structure.

          2. Ok. When you look up a charge involving theft, you would look under the ordinance titled “Theft”. Only when there is not a “Theft” titled ordinance, would you look elsewhere.

            In this instance there is a section titled very specifically “Carports and Garages”. The ordinance is very clear and concise. The only place the city could argue is if an installation of a carport does require a building permit, but I do not believe it does.

            I don’t know. Personally I don’t see the issue, you can see through them, and the only obstruction of view would be the vehicles parked under the carport, and the vehicles would still be there regardless of the carport being there or not, so this is a moot point in my eyes. This seems overtly petty and there are far more egregious code enforcement violations that exist than this petty problem. Especially since it is on “their” property or “their rented” property, and the intent is to protect their vehicles after the hailstorms we have had in the city.

          3. I agree. But you skipped over the part above the “Carports and Garages” entitled: “General Information: Accessory Structures” which applies to all Accessory Structures, including Carports and Garages.
            .
            I can obviously sympathize with the reasons people want to add carports, but any structure has to comply with the appropriate codes, which you found but didn’t read in its entirety.

  2. There you go having another nosy neighbor that can’t mind their own business and our pathetic legal system allowing people to file a bullshit claim against their neighbors. Our legal system shouldn’t allow stupid lawsuits like this to ever move forward. You would think there would be more important things to focus on, can’t people just worry about their own business.

    1. now,, here’s a thought:
      How about if it worked this way:
      SO your neighbor has a/some/alot of code violations that are creating what YOU deem an eyesore. Call code compliance or file online w/ a picture of the offense. Submit a $20.00 fee to have this looked into. If it is really THAT bad, and it’s out of code-they will be forced to take it down. Case by case basis. No cruising the area while you are there to pick up a few more bucks. PAY to file that complaint if you can’t take it anymore.

    1. I thought anything with a roof required a permit. But obviously none of the people violating the codes applied for one, or they would have found out then.

  3. “I’m a veteran who served my country!”… yeah guy, so am I and about 90% of the population in Colorado Springs. Unfortunately that doesn’t allow you to choose which laws to obey and which to not.
    The car port issue can be a problem when it causes blind spots in traffic. Having said that, there are TONS of other things people put in front of their houses that do the same thing, yet they are never sited. People park their huge RV’s right on the road next to a stop sign which makes it impossible to see oncoming traffic before pulling out. As a motorcycle driver, there are plenty of dangerous situations made by inconsiderate homeowners in this city!

  4. I have a homeless camp in the culdasac out front of my house on Ranch cir. Come take a look at this mess if you want to compare, and champlain…

    1. like I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.
      Sorry for your plight brother.

  5. Here is a thought.
    They have the 25′ setback for a reason. Fire access, traffic and utilities. If they allow there carports this can cause problems if there is a fire and they do obstruct line of sight on streets. Granted many streets don’t need the line of sight for safety but then people would call it “unfair” if someone else was able to and they singled out the ones that cause a safety hazard.
    Then you will have the people who will have a car port and then decide to put siding on it and store other stuff in it. Then it becomes a huge eye sore and a fire hazard.

    So due to the people who won’t be responsible and abuse the carport, no one can have one. It is only “Fair”. That is the new term for our society right? It all has to be fair. So the few ruin it for the many in this case.
    Personally I don’t like carports if they come off the front of a garage like that. Use your garage for your car and get rid of the junk that plagues your garage rendering it useless.

    1. Well lets see…….how will a care port cause a problem for the fire department? I think there would be more of a risk of a hydrant not working as we have seen on multiple occasions in the city. Since all of the cited carport owners have carports that are completely open on both sides, I fail to see how that obstructs line of sight. You keep saying fire hazard and these car ports are made out of metal. Do me a favor and try to light a piece of metal on fire the next time you are in a safe area to start a fire. It was pretty obvious you don’t like car ports from the beginning of your comment. Its also pretty obvious you are a participation citizen who has to be rewarded for just being there or you will attack others instead of minding your own business.

      1. The three there, you are correct. But will that be all of them if allowed? Nope.
        The fire hazard can come when people start to store gas cans, oil and other items. When I was a FF it was always an unknown and a danger. I have seen where cars caught fire under the carport and it made it more difficult to extinguish and it then started the house on fire. Use to live in a neighborhood where someone had one. Three years later it was trashy and falling apart. Then it became outdoor storage. Again it caught fire and burned the house and the neighbors house down. Never like them since that.
        Since it is a law/ordinance there is some thought behind it and why it became a law/ordinance. Even more over then what you think is all the points that matter or don’t. Like I said, there are responsible car port owners who take care of them and keep them nice. Then you have others who don’t. The ordinance is because of the people who don’t care and they become a hazard and an eye sore. So again the few ruin it for the many.

        1. Understand all the what if scenarios you describe; however, none of these homeowners have gas cans or oil buckets in and around their carports. As a matter of fact, if that was the basis for the complaint then I would agree it is a safety hazard, but it is not. While people can and do create trashy eyesores due to not maintaining their residence, you cant punish the masses due to a few bad apples. This is not communist China even though there are those who ignorantly wish it was for some unknown reason. Since you have a biased opinion on carports from a bad experience, you would be better served to not comment. or get involved in this dispute.

      2. Not all carports are made entirely of metal. There are different types of roofing materials available, some of which are flammable. And then do you apply the same rules to canvas ones from Harbor Freight Tools? Or to ones constructed with brick pillars, obviously designed to be filled in later? The rules are there, and it’s up to citizens to comply with them, since ignorance is no defense of the law.

  6. Oh this is simple…..find the S.O.B. that started running his/ her mouth and hit them with every complaint known to man, keep their arsses in court until they die or give up….. I mean everything from home to roads to everyday life….they wanna complain SHOW THEM HOW.

  7. Its just “Revenue Collection”
    While they are out there picking gold up off the street, there is plenty more to find. So heinous and ugly. We have a nest of coke dealers just across the street from DogWood that has trashed cars, excessive amounts of vehicles and hang out into the roadway. But when they are on a witch hunt they can’t see the forest for the trees.

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