Board of Zoning Adjustments, Nov. 7, 2013

BZAThe most time-consuming case tonight involved residential new-construction on Woodland Drive.  The architect and property owner had planned on a second story that had the same setback as the first story, not realizing that a second story without an additional setback needed a sprinkler system.  They had been working with the fire marshal to come up with a less expensive alternative, but the fire marshal had not yet signed off on the homeowner’s proposal.

Although the board ultimately allowed a variance (see below), it was over the objections of a neighbor who stated the board’s recent grant of four or five setback variances on Woodland had diminished green space on the street and created an atmosphere of garden homes.

Members present:  Hope Cannon, Sandy Eichelberger, Lauren Gwaltney, Ross McCain, and Trey Schaefer.

Members absent:  Valerie Askew and Jeffrey Foster.

Staff present:  Donna Bridges, board secretary, Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Building, Engineering and Zoning Department staff.

Audience attendance:  15

Approved:  The minutes of the October 3, 2013, meeting were approved.

All votes were unanimous unless otherwise stated.

Approved: The board approved a 10-foot rear setback variance at 411 Edgewood Boulevard to allow the homeowner to replace a shed that had been removed during sewer line replacement.  Part of the parcel is in a flood plain and the variance will allow the homeowner to place the shed on an elevated portion of the lot.

Approved:  A 2.2-foot left setback variance was approved to allow a small one-story addition at 1908 Mayfair Drive.  The homeowner plans to use the same type of siding and roofing materials for the addition that have been used on the rest of the house.

Approved:  The board approved a 1.5-foot left side setback variance (first floor) and 12.5-left side setback variance (second floor) to allow an addition at 3114 Overton Drive.   The addition, which has the same depth as the existing structure, will be located 36 feet from the house next door. A representative of the contractor spoke and provided a letter from the neighbors saying they had no objection to the variance.

Approved:  The homeowner at 512 Woodland Drive, who is building a new house, received two variances.  The first variance was a 5-foot left side structure setback variance (second floor), which allows the second story of his new house to have the same setback as the first story without the installation of sprinklers.  The variance is contingent on the homeowner’s agreeing to meet any restrictions imposed by the fire marshal, because the fire marshal had not formally approved the homeowner’s plan to use a water curtain to make the two upper story windows fire rated.

When asked what hardship justified grant of the variance, the homeowner said his architect had called the city to ask about setbacks, but didn’t mention that the house would have two stories.  A board member pointed out that complete information about setbacks, and different requirements for first and second stories, is available online.  Another board member also said that new construction should be expected to conform to zoning requirements.

During this discussion, a Woodland resident also objected, saying the street is losing green space because of the board has freely granted four or five setback variances that have allowed homes to overwhelm the lots, giving them the appearance of garden homes.

At this same address, the Board also allowed a 4-foot variance to put a garage on the property. The homeowner cited the placement of a power pole along the alley as the hardship that required him to shift the location of his driveway and garage.  Although the city council is considering a change to the zoning ordinance that would have made this variance unnecessary, the homeowner decided to go forward with the request just to make sure.

Approved:  A 2.95-foot left side variance was approved to allow a kitchen and screened porch addition to 11 Pamona Avenue.  The architect for the project explained that the lot is pie-shaped; although the addition will fit within the normal setback at the front of the house, a variance was needed at the back of the house.  With the variance, the addition would still be 11 feet from the property line.

Approved: The Board approved two variances for 710 Morris Boulevard; a 3-foot left side setback variance for an accessory structure, and a 10-foot right side variance to allow a carport at the end of her driveway, alongside her house, and a shed.

Approved:  Wayne Harris, one of the owners of the property occupied by Dreamcakes at 960 Oxmoor Rd, had requested an 18-foot rear setback variance to allow expansion of the building to the rear.  The board approved the variance subject to the property owner’s proffer to use masonry for the expansion and to have no opening facing 1015 Stuart Street.

Approved:  The Board approved the following variances for additions to 3127 Overton Drive, which is located at the corner of Overton and Mayfair Drive: A 10.7-foot front building setback variance (Mayfair),
A 4-foot left building setback variance (Overton), 2nd floor
A 7.2-foot left building setback variance (Overton).  Architect Eric Dale and the homeowner both spoke, citing as hardships the corner lot and the deep angle of the property.  They plan to add living space (including expansion of the upper story) and a porch with a carport below, maintaining the spirit of the existing home.  The homeowner stated that his immediate neighbors are in favor of the proposed changes.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

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