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Mitchell City Council approves accessory building, sidestepping opposition from some residents

“In respect of our neighbors, we decided to go back and see what we could do about dropping the height while still maintaining our ability to have upright, walk-around space above the garage,” Carey Buhler said of the modifications made to the building.

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Shown here is the Buhler residence that sits next to the area where the Buhler family is seeking to build a multi-use accessory building.
Sam Fosness / Republic

A Mitchell couple’s plan to construct a multi-use accessory building next to their home received the Mitchell City Council's approval Monday despite nearby residents’ opposition to the plan.

For Carey and Darlene Buhler to construct an accessory building that is intended to be used for garage space and recreational activity along the south side of their existing home, located at 600 Greenridge Lane, the Mitchell couple was required to secure a variance due to the size of the structure adding more than the maximum 2,000 square feet of building space to their existing lot.

When the Buhlers brought the plan forward in early March, it was met with opposition from some residents, who said the building was too large for the area. The proposed metal roof mismatching Buhler’s existing home was also an aesthetic concern that another neighbor addressed.

In an attempt to compromise, the Buhlers made modifications to the building, including shortening the height of the building to roughly 26 feet, marking a reduction of about 5 feet from the initial plan. The square footage of the building was also reduced to bring the total amount of building square footage on the Buhlers property combining the existing home and accessory building to just over 2,110.

“In respect of our neighbors, we decided to go back and see what we could do about dropping the height while still maintaining our ability to have upright, walk around space above the garage,” Carey said. “We didn’t anticipate that the 30-foot height was as big of a deal as it seemed like it was, so we’ve made adjustments.”

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After the Buhlers explained to the council they are shortening the height of the roof and square footage of the building, the council unanimously approved the variance request. Heading into Monday’s meeting, the Buhlers’ variance request had a recommendation to deny from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“We have no one behind us. We have no one to the north of us, and the people to the south of us are 420 feet away through wooded trees,” Darlene said, noting she attempted to reach out to neighbors who were opposed to the plan but did not get a response.

The proposed modifications did not change Greg Bormann’s stance against the building. Bormann, who resides near the Buhlers, claimed the accessory building “did not fit into the neighborhood.”

“We objected to the plan because of the height. It also has a tin roof on it that doesn’t match the house or neighborhood. The garage we have matches our house,” Bormann said.

With the Buhlers’ decision to reduce the height of the building to 26 feet, Darlene reiterated that the roof would not peak through the trees.

Ryan Huber also opposed the plan, pointing to the initial 30-foot height of the proposed building as one of his main concerns. Huber also noted the development where he and the Buhlers reside has a covenant established that prohibits an “out building that has living quarters in it.”

“I don’t know what would be inside of it, but it looks really nice with the balcony coming off the back of it. I can only assume that there’s going to be some living quarters in there, and that concerns me,” Huber said during the Mar. 14 Planning and Zoning Commission. “It would be looking down on my backyard and a few of the neighbors’ backyards.”

Carey emphasized the building would not serve as a living quarters, rather he said it would be used for recreational activities and storage. In response to some of the concerns raised about the structure, Carey rejected the claim that the building would have a “negative impact” on nearby residents.

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“It’s for personal use, recreation and storage. We’re not living in it,” Carey said.

As for the metal roof, Carey previously explained it was a decision based on reducing the risk of fires in the warmer seasons, noting the style of the metal roof is a more modern design.

“We’ve seen fireworks cause embers to float down on our roof, which is cedar shake design. In the summertime, it’s highly combustible,” Carey said of the roof design during the Mar. 28 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

Related Topics: MITCHELL CITY COUNCIL
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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