By Darrell Todd Maurina
About 90 percent of the 165 carports violating Clovis zoning ordinances could be legalized under a proposal discussed Monday night by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
Under the proposal, owners of pre-manufactured, portable and flat-roof carports that don’t meet city standards would be allowed to apply for rezoning that would allow the structures to remain.
Clovis City Manager Ray Mondragon said he expects city commissioners will extend their moratorium on enforcement of carport regulations when they meet Sept. 4. The P&Z commission will meet again later next month to vote on a revised set of standards, which will then go before city commissioners for approval.
Monday’s proposal would create two categories of carports: “Class A” carports that meet current strict standards and “Class B” carports that don’t.
The plan calls for those wanting to build either class of carport to gain permission from their neighbors through the zoning process.
Carports already in place that don’t meet current standards would have to gain approval through a rezoning process.
City officials would also retain the authority to deny a permit or rezoning request.
Rezoning would cost $125 or more, officials said.
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Tom Martin asked Assistant City Manager Joe Thomas how he thought current nonconforming carports would fare under the proposed new ordinance.
“I have looked at about 20 of these and only one or two would not meet the new standards,” Thomas said, noting that the remainder were mostly older carports in poor condition that pose a safety hazard.
That wasn’t enough for many of the more than 70 audience members present at the meeting, who objected to rezoning fees.
“You had me listed as one of the bad guys. I’d like to remind you that at the time it was permitted, all of you signed the permit and said it was OK,” resident Larry Porter said. “It seems to me that you are creating a lot of work, hate, and discord — pardon me for being blunt — after it has already been approved by you people,” Porter said.
“I have worked hard to save money to build a carport which is necessary for me,” said resident Philip Davis. “Leave us alone that’s already been through, set your rules for the new people.”
City Commissioner Kevin Duncan drew applause with a speech arguing for a “grandfather clause.”
“You’re asking residents to have to go back to get rezoning for a carport they already have in place,” Duncan told P&Z commissioners. “I think it would be better for us to grandfather what we now have in place and go on from here.”
Chairman Jim Wilkerson asked Duncan to make way for private citizens to comment.
“With all due respect, you will have a meeting coming up to make your point,” Wilkerson said.
That didn’t go over well with Duncan or the audience.
“Mr. Chairman, this is an open public meeting and I have a right to come here and make my point,” Duncan said, receiving loud applause.
After the end of the public comment period, P&Z Commissioner Juan Garza proposed an added compromise for existing carports that included waiving the fees for rezoning, grandfathering them in as long as they pass a safety inspection, and waiving the charge for permits.
“I think this is something that is workable, doable, and perhaps we can work it out,” Garza said.