Zoners approve setback sheds

Small sheds, children’s playhouses, and other “minor accessory structures” will once again be allowed within lot setbacks — the minimum space between a lot’s property line and any building on the property — after a decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Seven commissioners voted in favor of allowing the small structures within setbacks, with commissioner Tim Dunphy voting in opposition. Dunphy did not give a reason for his decision at the time of the vote.

Commissioner John Katz excused himself from the meeting early, before the vote took place.

The regulation will allow homeowners to put up one shed in their back yard, as long as the size does not exceed 200 square feet, Assistant Planner Adam Schnell told The Press. Putting up additional sheds, or placing a shed in the front yard is allowable, but will require an approval from either the commission or the town planning and zoning office, Schnell said.

The small buildings were originally allowed within setbacks, but were removed from the regulations after Judge William J. Lavery overturned the commission’s decision to allow the construction of a contractor’s yard off Route 7 in 2015.

That decision effectively “turned around 71 years” of town zoning regulations, Planning and Zoning Director Richard Baldelli said at the time. It forced the commission to amend its rules regarding yard setbacks at its Jan. 2 meeting, removing the phrase “or use” from the town definition of setbacks.

Baldelli raised the idea of adding the small sheds back into the regulations at the time, but the commission deferred the idea after members were unable to come to an agreement.