Council reduces swimming-pool setback

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By BriAnn Harvey
Mason Times staff writer

MASON — A request to reduce the swimming pool setback by 25 feet was reviewed at the second reading of ordinance no. 187 on Feb. 6. The motion passed 6-0 and was adopted.The Ordinance requires swimming pools to have a 35-foot setback from any rear property line.

John Jenkins, a member of the zoning board of appeals, said this matter was brought to the planning commission by a resident who asked for a swimming pool to be allowed within a 10-foot setback of any property line.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Waltz said, “In accordance with Mason code, swimming pools are required to meet the principle setback standard for the zoning district in which they are located.”

Jenkins said, “I don’t think that’s far enough. Ten feet is not very far, we’re talking about a swimming pool that is an accessory structure that provides some kind of attraction for all children and 10 feet is not very far from a property line.”

“Numerous home owners have made requests this year for installing a swimming pool and many of those home owners have had to appear before the zoning board of appeals due to code standards,” Waltz said.

David Haywood, zoning and development director, said at the Nov. 15 zoning board meeting that he had researched nine mid-Michigan cities and found that the largest rear yard setback was ten feet and the smallest was five feet.

The research indicated to the planning commission that this was severely restrictive to citizens who wanted to exercise their right to do what they would like to do on their parcel property.

Haywood ended by saying he thinks it’s safe to say the vast majority of communities consider pools an accessory structure with no more than a ten feet setback standard.

Councilmember James Mulvany said, “I recall sitting on a task force to look at these ordinances way back in the ‘90s we worked a lot of Saturdays mornings and with due respect to the zoning board of appeals I commend them for their work, but you know when a group of citizens sit down designing ordinances you do the best you can.”

“I don’t see the current set back requirements need to be changed at all and I urge you do not vote in favor of this resolution,” Jenkins said.

“Now, looking at this, I don’t know where in the heck our minds were to think that we would even want a 25-foot setback when we had many 66-foot lots and at the most 120-foot lots,” Mulvany said.

Mayor Leon Clark said, “The planning commission found that for neighboring communities in the surrounding area that we’re in fact the most restrictive in the area and that it is an area that needed to be addressed.”

“In the past year there was three requests to the ZBA for variances for swimming pools, two passed and one didn’t so we needed to come up with something that was a little bit more that we could do consistently,” Clark said.

“I certainly don’t feel that a 10-foot setback is too much because we do have other elements of the ordinance, like they must be fenced and, if I recall, I think we had an ordinance in there that they couldn’t be against house with windows where a child could fall out of a window and directly into the pool,” Mulvany said.