Everything was going well until “The Man” sashayed into our back yard, clipboard in hand, taking us by surprise. I knew immediately he was some kind of “inspector” coming to check on some neighbor’s complaint.
“Is this thing under 200 square feet?” He bellowed.
“It’s 12 x 24 feet,” my sister Cheryl answered defensively.
“You know you gotta have a permit for that,” he said, authoritatively.
“No I don’t,” Cheryl told him, impudently. “I checked with the state laws and it says if we are building a barn or an out building for animals, we can make it any size we want without a permit.”
“Not in Marion county,” he further insisted.
“It’s a state wide law for Oregon,” Cheryl insisted back. “I checked in two places, in the Portland city planning office in the permits division, and with the lawyer who came to our architecture class to explain the building laws.”
“Well, here in Marion county, you have to file for an exemption to not have to get a permit,” he back-peddled. “It’s a new ordinance.”
His brusk demeanor shifted to a friendlier one when he saw our little mustang filly. He was impressed that she was from the real wild mustang herd on Beady Butte. He complimented us on the quality of our structure, and began reminiscing about his burros and how great they were. We had a nice jovial visit after that, but he said we needed to go the Marion County permits office and see what they could do to help us work out a plan to bring our structure into compliance with the county rules.
Cheryl researched online about the rules here in MARION county, printed out our site plan, and we went to talk to the folks at the permit building.
Sadly, from what they said, it was true, we would have to get an exemption to build a barn because we are on AR (acreage residential) and not on exclusive farm use land. We would have to apply to get tax exemptions to have an official farming business to be able to build whatever we wanted on our property.
On the other hand, they said, we could just cut our lean to in half, making sure each side structurally independent from the other, each side being easily under 200 square feet, and we would be in compliance.
That would be the easiest option, we decided. “How much distance do we need between buildings?” Cheryl asked.
The man held up a piece of paper and said, “If I can slip this paper between the buildings, that would be far enough. If we could tear down one structure without pulling the other down, that would be enough separation.” He grinned and we smiled.
“We can do that,” we said.
We have 20 days to comply.
We left, thinking how silly some rules are. I suppose they serve a purpose, but for people like us, who tend to fly by the seat of our pants, it just gums up the works. We are smart enough to make good solid structures, in fact, we tend to over due the structural integrity of the buildings we make, but maybe some people have built things that have collapsed and hurt people. Whatever. We will cut it in two. Then we will build the big, fabulous barn we are planning . . . in little sections, each independent from the others. So there.