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Village revises regulations on driveways

The last time Kenmore tackled the driveway issue was in the era of the "family car."

These days, some families have a set of wheels for each member of driving age.

To accommodate the changing times, lawmakers voted this week to give homeowners a little more space for family fleets. A new local law on driveway construction replaces 1959 legislation.

"Back in 1959, if you had one car you were lucky," Building Inspector Douglas Randall said. And houses in older neighborhoods were designed without driveways or garages, he noted.

Under the old law, the maximum driveway width was 10 feet, Now, driveways in residential districts can measure 10 feet plus 10 percent of the lot's width -- but no wider than 16 feet.

Most residential lots in the village average 35 to 40 feet in width, Randall said.

No part of the driveway can be closer than a foot from the adjoining lot line. Beyond the width of the driveway itself, the village will allow a maximum 18 inches between the front of the house and the sidewalk for "swing room" of vehicle doors.

That provision, Randall said, was intended "to prevent people from installing parking pads . . . which we have several of in the village."

"This is saying, 'All right, we understand you have to have some type of space there to open and close your doors,' " Randall said.

The law also stipulates the materials that can be used in driveway construction: concrete, asphalt, bricks or pavers.

"We don't want people to use gravel, stone fill [or] dirt," Randall said. The reasons include erosion, as well as environmental concerns about substances that can leak from vehicles.

A grandfather clause covers current driveways. But anyone wanting to replace what now would be considered an illegal driveway would have to follow the new rules.

Another local law enacted earlier this year also requires a $35 building permit for driveway construction. Permits won't be required for replacing driveways in the same footprint of legal size.


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