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Ross residents are no longer free to put as many sheds and garages on their properties as they please.

Changes to the township's law governing so-called “accessory structures” will limit the number, size and location of buildings to two, with a combined square footage of no more than 720 square feet, said Nick Rickert, the township's planning and zoning administrator.

“As the law stood, an individual could technically put up as many unattached accessory structures on their property as they wanted, so long as each of them were no larger than 600 square feet,” said.

The changes were driven, in part, by a desire to control the character of neighborhoods, Rickert said.

The 720-square-foot limit was decided by combining the typical size for a two-car garage — 600 square feet; and a shed, which ranges from 80 to 120 square feet, he said.

Accessory structures, which include unattached guest houses and living quarters for domestic workers and caretakers, also must be:

Bahis Siteleri No taller than 14 feet

• Kept out of front yards

• At least 5 feet from the side-yard property line

• At least 5 feet from the rear line if it is 99 square feet or less; 15 feet if between 100 and 720 square feet

The changes do not apply to existing structures or movable storage boxes and tool closets. While still considered structures, swimming pools, basketball courts and car ports are unaffected.

Commissioners voted 8-1 on Jan. 17 to create the new rules, with David Mikec casting the dissenting vote.

Rickert said residents who own properties with enough space to warrant adding more or larger accessory structures can seek a variance from the township's zoning hearing board. Variances also can be sought if property owners can demonstrate that adhering to the new guidelines would create a hardship.

In addition to the aesthetic value of preserving greenspace, limiting the number of buildings helps maintain the amount of land into which stormwater can be absorbed, Rickert said.

Impenetrable surfaces such as parking lots, sidewalks and roofs allow stormwater to flow at higher speed, which can contribute to flash flooding in low-lying areas and soil erosion, according to 3 Rivers Wet Weather, a nonprofit environmental organization that works to address the region's wet weather and overflow problems.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-772-6368 or

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