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Hail, some as large as golf balls, fell in the Broadmoor area during storms. Kelel Nilsen sweeps fallen leaves out of the driveway of his home as a fog lifts from the layer of hail that fell on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Colorado Springs City Council is temporarily suspending enforcement that could require residents to take frontyard carports down while they rethink carport rules. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Colorado Springs residents with carports in their front-yard driveways will not be asked to take them down unless they pose a health and safety issue while the Colorado Springs City Council looks at revising rules governing the structures. 

Colorado Springs City Council members seemed to support revising carport rules Tuesday after hearing from a resident who was asked to take her carport down by the city.

The owner, Colette Cook, made the case for her carport saying it had been in place for eight years and it had helped protect her own cars and those of her neighbors during recent hailstorms. The carport has also allowed her to safely get her disabled daughter, who uses a wheelchair, in and out of the car, she said.

"You have got to give me chance to get my daughter into the house safely," she said. 

The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department did not tell Cook when she put the carport up that it was prohibited by the city. Since September, when she was notified the structure violated city code, she has explored applying for a variance but was told by city staff told her they are not granting special permission for carports at this time. 

"What kind of democracy is that?" she asked. 

Carports have largely been prohibited in city front yards because they don't comply with setbacks requiring the structures to be 20 to 25 feet from the property line in many areas, said Peter Wysocki, planning and development director.

But those rules had not been enforced for years, until a spate of complaints were filed with the city last year about carports, he said previously.  

Cook is one of more than 80 residents who has been notified by the city to take down or modify their carport because it violated city code. Some of those people have already taken down them down or modified them, said Mitch Hammes, neighborhood services manager.

Councilwoman Yolanda Avila pointed out that Cook is likely one of hundreds of people who put up a carport thinking they were within city code, adding the city should rethink its rules. 

Council members said carports are needed to protect vehicles from hail, but they want to ensure that rules protect sight lines so that drivers pulling out can see pedestrians walking along sidewalks, they said. 

Those with carports that present a health or safety issue could still be asked to take their carport down while the rules are getting revised, council members said. 

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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