Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Permanent Canopies Violate Code; Some Using Them to Store Cars, Boats

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Permanent Canopies Violate Code; Some Using Them to Store Cars, Boats

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

Clay County residents who buy canopies to store cars, trucks or boats under instead of in a garage or carport better think again.

County zoning officials say the structures, which usually have six to eight metal poles attached to a canvas or plastic top, are OK for events like backyard cookouts and birthday parties as long as they are dismantled afterward and stored.

But they are too flimsy for continuous use and could become an airborne hazard hurtling through the neighborhood in a strong windstorm, officials say.

"A lot of those with the tarps don't meet the building code, so we can't issue a permit," said Zoning Director Cheryl Miller.

Tom Martinson, the county's building director, said it's a safety issue, not one of aesthetics.

"It's strictly a building code issue," Martinson said, drawing a sharp distinction between soft-top canopies and all-metal structures. "The metal ones are designed to withstand 110 to 120 mph winds."

The tarpaulin covers, on the other hand, are designed to withstand winds up to about 40 mph, he said. That's why the county cannot issue a permit for them.

"They are designed for temporary use," Martinson said. "But people are notoriously putting these things up all over the county as permanent structures."

The county doesn't have enough code enforcement officers to catch all violators, he said, but if somebody complains the county will send someone out to investigate and, if appropriate, order a canopy to be removed.

That's what happened to Charles Burchett, who bought a canopy from Kmart to store an automobile under at his home on Pine Hollow Road near Green Cove Springs. He said the car leaked when it rained and he wanted to protect it.

After a neighbor complained to the county, Burchett said he tried to apply for a permit but was denied one. He said he's seen plenty of other similar canopies all over the county and can't understand why he can't have one, too.

"It's a canvas canopy; they're all over the darn place," Burchett said. "We put it up about four months ago, but one of our neighbors complained and somebody from the county came out and said we were in violation and needed a building permit. …

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