Dispute over carports in Berkeley County

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Carports built on people's property are now causing controversy in Berkeley County. The county confirms it has sent out 35 notices letting people know they are violating county rules by having the structure set up. Residents aren't happy, but county officials say the rules are in place for a good reason.

James Roettger set up his 12x18 foot carport in his driveway ten years ago, and no one ever seemed to have a problem with it. A week ago he says Berkeley County Code Enforcement sent him a letter telling him the carport was violating county codes, and he needed to fix the problem by applying for a variance because of the size and then applying for a permit to have the structure on his property.

"Either waiver the variance or consider this to be a temporary structure like I was told it was to begin with. I'm not going to pay $100 for a variance and another $100+ for the permit," Roettger said.

The county says the letters went out to giving them a chance to comply.

Randall Spencer says he's been calling code enforcement for some answers since he got the letter a week ago.

"I don't think they actually know particulars of the law which is funny because they should know these things. They should be able to answer any of my questions prior to issuing a citation," Spencer said.

When Live 5 asked Berkeley County Government for the information they sent it, and the zoning administrator says the ordinance is in place for safety reasons saying, "Residents must obtain a permit and follow specific requirements for installation and anchoring. These requirements are in place to ensure the safety not only of the homeowner, but other residents and people in the area. Carports must be properly located, anchored correctly and meet minimum wind load requirements," Zoning Administrator Eric Greenway said.

The county says because these carports have become so prevalent and because they can be a public danger if they become unanchored, code enforcers will now work with people to ensure all residents' safety.

Residents who don't comply with the ordinance could face fines of up to $500 and jail time.

In the letter from the county, residents say they were only given until March 3rd to get their permits.

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