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Guidelines established for carports in town

A months-long debate over where carports should be located on properties within Jonesborough seems to have come to a conclusion.
At their April 16 meeting, members of the Jonesborough Planning Commission unanimously passed new carport guidelines following several months of revisions.
The Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen, back in November 2012, amended a zoning ordinance so that freestanding carports can be built not only in a person’s back yard, but also in the front yard or side yard.
Pointing out that most carports are located on the front or side of a residence, leaders agreed to the change in municipal code.
Later that month, though, Alderman Chuck Vest, also a member of the Planning Commission, said he didn’t like allowing carports in front and side yards unless such structures were built to look like the residence itself.
The change of heart stemmed from a resident’s request that the Planning Commission allow him to put a metal carport in front of his home.
The BMA once again took up the issue in December 2012, this time passing the amendment to town ordinance with the caveat that it then be sent to the Planning Commission for more specific guidelines to be flushed out.
Last month, the Planning Commission voted against allowing metal carports in front and side yards.
Vest said he believed carports in such locations need to be stick-built or made of brick and should not be prefabricated, metal structures.
At last week’s meeting, the Planning Commission approved wording in the guidelines to say as much.
According to the new guidelines, carports located in the front or on the side of a residence become an “extension of the house or building that would have had to meet requirements of the building code” had they been constructed at the same time as the home.
The quality of the carport is, commission members contend, equally as important to the quality of the building with which the carport is associated.
“I like the revisions,” Vest said just before making a motion to approve the new guidelines.
Before votes were cast, Planning Commission Chairman Jimmy Rhein questioned whether the group was “absolutely certain” there should not be some flexibility in the guidelines.
“For people in lower cost subdivisions where there are already some (metal carports) existing, do we want to consider future ones in that area?” he asked.
Members agreed it would not be a good idea to allow metal carports for some residents while prohibiting them for others. Metal carports already constructed in side or front yards through the variance process will be grandfathered in.