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(Nov. 20, 2020) Amendments to residential accessory structure height regulations in A-1 and A-2 agricultural districts will move forward, after a majority of Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday elected to add their names to the legislation. 

According to the agenda memo, the zoning amendment would allow property owners to seek a special height exception from the Board of Zoning Appeals for residential accessory structures. 

Currently, only non-habitable roofed superstructures, such as cupolas, flagpoles and smokestacks may exceed the height regulations in any zoning district. 

Applicants may seek special exceptions for non-residential structures, as well. 

For A-1 and A-2 agricultural districts, the height restriction is no more than two stories or 25 feet. 

“Originally, she [applicant Donna West] sought to increase the height of accessory structures in all districts to unlimited heights,” Review and Permitting Director Ed Tudor said. “We obviously had some concerns.” 

Rather than allowing that, the department staff proposed permitting residential accessory structures in the A-1 and A-2 districts to be increased to a maximum height of 35 feet by special exception only, and would have to comply with applicable setback regulations. 

County Commissioner Joshua Nordstrom, West’s representative, gave some background on her request. 

Nordstrom said his understanding was that the original zoning ordinance was put into place to prevent outbuildings from being built to a certain height to protect adjacent property owners. 

“In this case, the property in question is protected lands that will never be built on and therefore does not apply and that’s why this text amendment was applied for in the first place,” Nordstrom said.

Tudor said the county does not usually write text amendments for individual properties. 

“We were trying to write something that applies in the entire zoning district, and because the A-1 and A-2 are generally larger lots, more open space, so on and so forth, we thought it was appropriate for that 10-foot increase by special exception,” Tudor said. 

Commissioners Nordstrom, Chip Bertino, Bud Church, Ted Elder, Diana Purnell and Joe Mitrecic agreed to sign on to the measure, thus allowing it to be voted on in a future meeting.

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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