Planners recommend changes to setback rules

by Peter J. Teagle - Posted on Feb 13, 2019 - 02:37 PM

The Gloucester County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend changes to setbacks and the subdivision ordinance during its Feb. 7 meeting in the colonial courthouse.

The main takeaway from the night was the recommendation to change the 30-foot setback for ancillary structures in SF-1 to five feet, which will especially affect residents on corner lots in single-family residential zones. Single-family structure setbacks would also be reduced to 15 feet.

At present, ancillary structures such as sheds or garages must be 30 feet back from roads, which for residents on corner lots can be next to impossible if they have a lot size of an acre or less. A couple who lives on Yacht Club Road in Ware Neck spoke during the public comment period during last week’s meeting on how the current setback regulation is preventing them from building a garage in an otherwise suitable area.

Planning and Zoning staff stated this couple was “not the only ones,” and added “many people are excited for this change.”

Additional changes included in the proposal were the removal of the maximum 1-acre lot size in SC-1 cluster developments and the removal of requirements to connect “minor subdivisions” (usually four to five homes in size) to county water and sewer. Homeowners in such a situation, pending board approval of the measure, would have the option of using well and septic instead of county water, though could still connect to county infrastructure if they are in a served area and choose to do so. Major subdivisions will still be required to connect.

Commission member Natalie Johnson motioned for a recommendation of approval and after a vote, the recommendation of approval carried by a 6-0 margin with one absent. The proposal now awaits action by the county board of supervisors.