A meeting that looked to be short and quick with only one item on the agenda stretched into 40 minutes when a neighbor angrily objected to a building code variance that had been allowed, in error, by a city inspector and was before the board as a matter of record-keeping. The objector was ultimately unable to specify what he wanted as a remedy.
Members present: All – Valerie Askew, Hope Cannon, Sandy Eichelberger, Jeffrey Foster, Lauren Gwaltney, Ross McCain, and Trey Schaefer.
Staff present: Donna Bridges, board secretary, Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department staff.
Audience attendance: 5
The meeting was called to order at 6:05 PM.
Approved: The minutes of the September 5, 2013 meeting were approved as submitted.
Approved: The board unanimously approved a request for a 5-foot variance for
an accessory structure at 307 Ascott Road. This request came about as a result of an zoning ordinance change made after this lot was purchased for a new residence and after the inspector had signed off on the structure. The ordinance in effect at time of purchase allowed an accessory structure with a 5-foot rear setback from the property line, and the house was designed with a fireplace attached to a patio at that location. By the time the structure was built, the ordinance had been changed to require it to be at the same setback as the house.
The inspector at the time wasn’t aware of the change, and signed off on it as designed and built. Now that the error has been discovered, the owner asked for a variance as a legal refuge. A neighbor who lives at the adjacent rear lot at 17 Greenwood Street, objected to the patio structure based on this error, saying he “does not like looking at it.” In order to better visualize the orientation of the two houses, Mr. Cobb printed copies of the layouts so that the board could see how close the structure is to the neighbor’s property. Previous aerial views were also submitted. No other neighbors spoke, and only the contractor spoke for the owner.
Ms. Cannon attempted to discern what remedy the neighbor wanted and the board offered to allow them time to discuss it privately in the committee room. After a great deal of discussion between the contractor and the objecting neighbor, Ms. Cannon asked if he would accept a landscape buffer to screen the structure from view, and he said he would. The contractor, however, said the owner had just completed extensive landscaping and was not inclined to do more at this time. The vote was taken and the request for the variance was unanimously approved. The owner and the neighbor were seen chatting as the meeting was adjourned.