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Monday, September 16, 2013

9/24/2013 - Supervisor Throne-Holst Proposes to Eliminate Permit Requirement for Storage Sheds

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst is proposing a code amendment that would eliminate the permit requirement for residential storage sheds. If adopted, law would save residents the cost of the permit filing, as well the application components, which in total often exceed the cost of the actual shed. Additionally, many existing sheds that were installed without permits would no longer be illegal.

“It’s critical that we continually revisit our Town code and re-evaluate how it is working, and the shed permit is an example of a requirement that is simply too onerous,” said Throne-Holst. “Storage sheds are small and basic structures without plumbing or external illumination. Yet, we are finding that the high cost of the permit process has been causing people to sidestep the requirement. As a result, property owners with illegal sheds are hesitant to invite an inspector onsite for other inspections like rental permits, or electrical work, etc. – which are far more important to protecting life and safety,” she said.

Surrounding towns such as Brookhaven and Riverhead do not require permits for residential storage sheds. Further, New York State building code does not require a permit for structures fewer than 144 square feet in area.

Removal of the permit requirement will exempt one structure per property that meets the Town’s definition of a residential storage shed, provided it is placed a minimum of 10 feet from adjacent properties and avoids any other parcel-specific wetlands or conservation restrictions. According to Town code a residential storage shed is located on lot sizes two acres or less and defined as:

“A structure used to store household equipment (including garden equipment, lawn furniture and bicycles) and having a maximum gross floor area of 120 square feet with a height not greater than 12 feet. A residential storage shed shall have no external illumination.”

Currently, the permit fee for a storage shed is $67.50, and the Building Department typically receives approximately 100 permit applications for sheds per year. However, a key component of the shed permit application is a survey that identifies the proposed location of the shed on the property. This survey can cost up to $1,200. Additionally, property owners who built sheds without permits and later attempt to legalize them incur a penalty equivalent to double the permit fee, or $135. If the code amendment is approved, these fees would no longer apply.

“Building codes are simply meant to ensure structures are safe and to protect community character. If we can provide relief from a permit requirement without jeopardizing any of these goals, I think it’s important that we do so,” said Throne-Holst.

The public hearing for the proposed amendment is scheduled for the September 24 Town Board meeting, which starts at 6:00 p.m.

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