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City carport regulations relaxed

The Sonora City Council on Monday unanimously adopted an ordinance that amends carport size constraints in the city municipal code.

Effective next month, city residents will be allowed to construct carports up to 340 square feet without a conditional-use permit, or larger with a permit.


The municipal code now restricts carports to 264 square-feet and requires residents to obtain a conditional-use permit from the city to build a carport of any size. 

Community Development Director Rachelle Kellogg said city staff, under direction of the Planning Commission, developed the amended ordinance in response to requests from citizens.  

The larger carports will be able to accommodate wheelchair-accessible vans, according to meeting documents.

The ordinance also establishes criteria Sonora residents must meet to construct carports with reduced setbacks. 

Although a conditional-use permit is not required for carports smaller than 340 square feet, a building permit must still be secured.

Carports can’t be taller than 8 feet, and must be situated at least 6 feet from other buildings and 3 feet from the property line. The location must be approved by the city and can’t interfere with existing utilities, rights-of-way or easements. 

The parcel where a carport is built must be one-half acre or smaller, contain a home at least 50 years old and not already have a garage or other covered parking structure. 

For fire safety, each carport must have a noncombustible wall adjacent to the property line and noncombustible floor surfacing consisting with the Sonora Building Department and Fire Department standards. 

To ensure stability, carports must be anchored to the foundation, equipped to withstand 85 mph winds and constructed of material other than fabric. They must be built on an all-weather drivable surface and sloped for drainage. 

The total coverage for all carports must be consistent with the floor-to-area ratio for the applicable zoning district. 

The design, colors and materials of the carport must be compatible with the residence.

Carports can only house residents’ transportation vehicles.

In other business, the council: 

• Authorized city staff to apply for up to a $2 million grant to fund three projects: new multi-family housing in place of a burned-out apartment complex on Stewart Street, an inventory of the city’s historic resources and infrastructure for fire protection in residential areas. The council also authorized the city to proceed with the projects if its application is approved by the state. Councilmember Connie Williams abstained from both decisions, which were made following a public hearing. 

• Unanimously approved the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority’s fiscal year 2014 budget. The city will contribute $84,303 — about $23,826 more than the current fiscal year. TCEDA Director Larry Cope said the loss of outside contracts, staff working more hours and the authority expanding its programs are all factors in the increase. 

• Welcomed Ibrahim Khalil, a new Sonora police officer hired under the Vets to Cops grant.

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