The Colorado Springs City Council approved new regulations Tuesday that will govern all existing carports in front of homes and any residents might build in the future.
Anyone who currently owns a carport within 20 to 25 feet of a home's front property line will have to come into compliance with the new rules or take the carport down because the structures were previously not allowed under city code at all, said Peter Wysocki, planning and community development director.
Councilwoman Nancy Henjum proposed a system that would allow residents with carports that don't conform to the new rules to come forward and allow them to be grandfathered in. But it did not gain traction with the other board members.
"When you have something illegal, that’s not something that gets grandfathered," Councilman Wayne Williams said.
He noted that the new rules represent a compromise that the council has been working on since late last year.
The city started receiving complaints about illegal carports last year, prompting enforcement against residents. The council agreed to work on rules that would allow carports after hearing from residents who were going to have to take them down because they were illegal.
The city had not heavily enforced its rule against carports in front of homes for years, so many had gone up to help protect vehicles from hail and sun damage.
The newly approved rules prohibit carports with a rounded metal roof that drops partially down the sides, a common design. The carports must also have eaves, posts a minimum of 4 inches across and meet a height restriction of 12 feet. The structures also cannot have untreated wood or unpainted metal, according to the approved rules.
Residents will also have to apply for a permit to build a carport, and neighbors will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed structures.
Councilwoman Yolanda Avila said she was disappointed the rules are so prescriptive and will force constituents to buy more expensive carports. Wysocki said structures that meet city requirements can be double the price of one of the common designs.
Henjum proposed an amendment to the rules aimed at allowing the common carport design, by adding a line saying carports could be allowed if they are compatible with the predominate neighborhood streetscape. But Wysocki said such a rule would be too ambiguous.
Ultimately, the two hesitant councilwomen voted for the new rules, and the new regulations passed on an 8 to 1 vote, with only Councilman Mike O'Malley opposed.
Over the summer, the council seemed poised to pass less restrictive carport rules and then deadlocked after hearing from residents concerned that carports could hurt the character of historic neighborhoods.
The approved proposal addresses concerns from residents in historic neighborhoods by stating that carports must comply with historic preservation or neighborhood character standards.
The rules were also amended Tuesday to allow residents to apply for a carport in front of their house if putting it behind or beside their home would negatively affect the enjoyment of the property. For example, if a resident has room for a carport beside their home but it would require the person to remove a flower garden, they can apply for a permit to put the carport over the driveway instead. The previous ordinance required carports to go in beside or behind homes as long as space was available.