NORMAN — A code amendment that would make it easier for some Norman residents to build carports spurred debate this week at city hall.
Council member Greg Jungman, who represents Ward 4, voiced strong concerns about how the change might affect neighborhoods.
“I fear that a loose regulation on this will create a toxic mix of cheaply obtained carports, gnarly Oklahoma weather and property/car owners with little regard for their neighbors/ neighborhood,” Jungman said in an email Tuesday night. “This toxic mix is particularly likely in Ward 4.”
Planning Director Susan Connors presented several code amendments to city council Tuesday at a non-voting council conference. The amendments were primarily “housekeeping” measures to clarify definitions and language and come into compliance with state law.
On Nov. 4, the city planning commission agreed that the code amendments should move forward for council consideration.
Connors said there are not a lot of requests for carports, but some residents in older neighborhoods have occasionally expressed a need to protect vehicles.
Council member Jim Griffith said he supports loosening the code to allow for carports where appropriate. He said one of his Ward 6 residents had to tear a carport down, despite that neighbors voiced strong support in favor of the carport.
Currently, carports are allowed in neighborhoods that already have carports — whether those carports were built according to city code or not.
The proposed amendment would require that carports be anchored permanently. Carports still would be prohibited in most newer subdivisions where neighborhood covenants prohibit them.
Carports would continue to be prohibited in Norman’s historic districts — both located in Ward 4.
Jungman said he doesn’t want people going out to Walmart and buying carports. He asked for stringent guidelines if they are to be allowed.
“Whatever we do, we must explicitly prohibit pre-manufactured carports,” Jungman said in an email sent to clarify his position. “I also think it is reasonable to create a rule that requires the carport to match the home.”
Council member Tom Kovach said Jungman’s attitude toward carports is elitist and could prevent the elderly, the disabled and others on fixed incomes from being able to protect their vehicles from Oklahoma weather.
Another code change will eliminate the issuance of city journeyman licenses. Connors said it was brought to the city’s attention that state statute no longer allows municipalities to require city journeyman licenses.
State issued journeyman licenses still will be required.
Connors said the city received about $8,500 in journeyman fees last year.
Contractor licenses still will be required by the city, but many subcontractors will be saved from the need to get and renew the $10 journeyman fee and the $5 annual renewal fees. Those include mechanical HVAC journeymen, electrical, natural gas piping, process piping, refrigeration, plumber, sheet metal and ground source piping.
Some other key amendments proposed for the city code include:
· Updating Norman ordinances to comply with state statutes that reduce the time for the declaration of a dilapidated building that has been boarded and secured form 36 months to 18 months.
· Establish setbacks for tornado shelters at 10 feet from front yard sidewalks and five feet on side yards.
· Reinstate the ability to require property owners to trim low-hanging tree limbs or encroaching bushes and shrubs from blocking sidewalks and to require basketball goals be removed from the street.
· Allow a mobile home and a house on the same lot in the A-2 (agricultural) zoning for a medical emergency.
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