BEAVERCREEK — Thomas Sliemers, a resident that lives on Beaver Valley Road appealed a decision by the Beavercreek Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) where the board rejected his application to build an addition to an existing barn on his property.
The issue was the interpretation or definition of of a principal building.
“The building commission and the BZA assumes that since there is a house on the property that it is the principal structure, but that’s incorrect,” McNamee & McNamee Attorney Greg O’Connor said. “The Beavercreek zoning code defines a principal structure as a building within which conducts the principle use of the lot where the building is situated. Principal use is defined as the main use to which the premises is devoted and for which the premises exists. The principal structure on this property is the barn. The barn was the only reason he purchased this property.”
The Beavercreek attorney represented Sliemers in his venue for approval.
Sliemers purchased the 2-acre piece of property in 2014. He indicated that he purchased the property only for the barn already positioned on the property. It was zoned as agricultural in a residential area. He never intended to live in the house, which also has a driveway and a two-car garage. Up until the past two years, he rented the house out, but always maintained the use of the barn for collectables and hobbies. The house has been vacant for the past two years.
“There’s no requirement that the house, with a driveway, had to be lived in to be considered as a principal structure,” City of Beavercreek Attorney said.
In February, Sliemers applied for permission to build an addition to his barn. He was denied by the planning commission in March. In April, he and his attorney filed an appeal with the BZA. The appeal was also denied. The reason for the denial hinges on the definition of a “principal structure.”
Is it the house or the barn, since that is the primary use of the property? If the barn is considered the principle structure, then the application should be approved. But, if the addition is approved, since the property is less than five acres, the footprint of the addition has to be less than 50 percent of the total property. The question in front of the board is, does these parameters meet this situation?
Neighbors appeared in front of city council to also voice their opinion regarding the addition. It was unanimous, that the addition would make the barn too large, since the application requested the total barn size be double the current size, including the height. Neighbors were concerned about the height and the impact on their property value.
“I wouldn’t want a barn in my neighborhood that size, it’s too big. I feel good about supporting the opinions of the residents,” City Council Member Debborah Wallace said.
Council members, Brian Jarvis and Zack Uptom acknowledged that Greene County defines a principled structure as the house and not a barn or shed. They felt the definition made a clear argument of the definition that should hold the standard.
But combined, the city council took the following conditions in consideration for their decision: 1) The lot is approximately 2.0 acres and zoned as A-1; 2) The lot is classed as residential by the Greene County Auditor, there being a house of approximately 1,332 sq. ft. on the lot; 3) Applicant has existing two accessory structures on the property, which combined total approximately 10,442 sq. ft.; 4) Applicant’s application is to build a 4,872 sqare feet addition on the larger accessory structure; 5) The single family house is the principal structure on the property and the A-1 principal permitted use of the lot is that of a residential lot; 6) BCO Section 158.030 (J)(2) regulates accessory structures on A-1 lots of less than five acres referencing BCO Section 158.104; 7) BCO Section 158.104(E)(1)(b) provides that accessory structures cannot exceed the greater of 900 sq. ft. or 50 percent of the principal structure. 8) The application seeks to expand the existing barn by approximately 4,872 sqare feet, which is in excess of the limit as determined by the planning staff.
The vote was unanimous to uphold the decision of the commission and BZA to deny the applicant’s request to add an addition to the existing barn.
Danielle Coots is a freelance writer for Greene County News.