Accessory structures, such as attached garages and shops, take many forms in Keizer. At its latest meeting, the Keizer Planning Commission approved building code amendments to help reign in the variance found throughout the city.

“There’s been a lot of skirting of the rules,” said Shane Witham, interim development director for the city. “I would like to clarify what an attached means and what will qualify as one going forward.”

Engaging in sometimes heated discussions with residents over the issues isn’t exactly out of the ordinary at the city’s planning department. Some applicants for accessory structures simply put up a single board between the main home and the accessory dwelling and try to call it good.

The accessory dwelling changes that will now be forwarded to the Keizer City Council include:

• Defining accessory dwelling units as separate from accessory structures.

• Putting in place setback requirements that are triggered by the average height of the building. For example, if an accessory structure’s roof peaks at 26 feet and the outermost edges of the roof line Accessory structures, such as attached garages and shops, take many forms in Keizer. At its latest meeting, the Keizer Planning Commission approved building code amendments to help reign in the variance found throughout the city.

“There’s been a lot of skirting of the rules,” said Shane Witham, interim development director for the city. “I would like to clarify what an attached means and what will qualify as one going forward.”

Engaging in sometimes heated discussions with residents over the issues isn’t exactly out of the ordinary at the city’s planning department. Some applicants for accessory structures simply put up a single board between the main home and the accessory dwelling and try to call it good.

The accessory dwelling changes that will now be forwarded to the Keizer City Council include:

• Defining accessory dwelling units as separate from accessory structures.

• Putting in place setback requirements that are triggered by the average height of the building. For example, if an accessory structure’s roof peaks at 26 feet and the outermost edges of the roof lineare 20 feet, the average height of the building will be considered 23 feet.

• Breezeways would be added to the permissible types of connections between the primary dwelling.

• Accessory structures that share a common wall will need to be constructed of materials compatible with the primary structure.

• Membrane structures will be prohibited, and the list of allowable materials expanded to wood, stone, brick, metal, vinyl or resin that is crafted to look like wood.

According to existing rules, attached garages can be no larger than 600 square feet and no taller than the existing primary structure and, even then, no taller than 24 feet.

Commissioner Jeremy Grenz suggested revising how setbacks are triggered. In the past, Witham said, setbacks were based on the height of the facing wall. Grenz said using the average height would bring the code more in line with surrounding communities.

In an original draft of the new code, metal siding was going to be prohibited alongside membrane materials, but that didn’t sit well with many of the commissioners.

“If someone wants to go out and buy a boat, we are adding to their cost if we don’t allow the metal siding,” said commissioner Matt Lawyer.

Commissioner Mark Caillier said he recently noted a new garage door in his neighborhood that looked like wood until he was five feet away when it became apparent it was metal.”

“I just did a quick search online and you can find log cabin designs made out of metal siding,” Caillier said. “I don’t think any of us want to see vertical-seam metal siding though.”

The new standards would apply to any accessory structure with more than 200 square feet for ground flooring. Smaller structures, like those found in kits at hardware stores, are generally exempt from the building code.