Board of Zoning Adjustments, June 5, 2014

This lot at 800 Saulter was split into two narrower lots, with the lot nearest Carr Avenue to be sold for a residence. The large lot had been proposed as a neighborhood park and as a parking lot--neither getting official approval.

This lot at 800 Saulter Road was split into two narrower lots, with the section nearest Carr Avenue (in the background) to be sold for a residence. Neighborhood interest has focused on developing the property as a park, and blocking plans to convert it to a gravel parking area. Tonight’s action sailed through without a comment.

The board efficiently dispensed with eight cases–denying one of them in a rare split vote–and for the first time making a point to ask each applicant, “What is the nature of your hardship?” to determine if there existed a lawful justification for granting a variance. The one item anticipated to draw public interest–the sub-division of 800 Saulter Road (the Heeter property)– drew no comments at all.

Members present: Brian Jarmon, Jeffrey Foster, Lauren Gwaltney, Ross McCain, and Trey Shaeffer.

Members absent: Valerie Askew and Hope Cannon

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

Audience attendance: 21

All votes unanimous unless otherwise noted. A “setback” is the distance from the property line where building is allowed. Each case notes the number of feet a variance allows the applicant to build outside of, or beyond, that limit.

Approved April 3, 2014, minutes.

Approved: The board granted a 7-foot left building setback variance for a screened porch at 1650 Lakewood Drive. The hardship was that building it within the setback would have blocked bedroom windows. The owners agreed to a proffer (binding agreement) not to enclose the porch for a room.

Approved: A 5-foot 5-inch side variance, and a 5-foot rear accessory structure setback variance were approved for a garage at 519 Hampton Drive. The stated hardship was that the existing structure was already non-conforming, and the need to build on the existing footprint due to other lot constraints.

Approved: A 2,135 square foot lot size variance was allowed in order to subdivide a 176 foot wide x 175 foot deep lot at 800 Saulter Road into two lots, each 2 feet narrower than code. The hardship expressed was that the lot was too large and costly to sell for a single residence. The owner, David Heeter, said the property had been on the market for years with no offers. [The city council and park directly recently turned down neighbors who lobbied to have the city purchase the property to convert into a park of some sort — see Friends of Broadway Park and Community Gardens Facebook page. More recently, the Planning Commission denied Mr. Heeter’s bid to rezone the property to sell for a gravel parking lot for GianMarco’s restaurant.] A purchase contract for the sub-divided lot nearest to Carr Avenue is already written, contingent on obtaining the variances. Despite the neighborhood’s history of concern over this property, and the unusual number of spectators, no one spoke for or against the requested zoning adjustment.

Approved: A 5.9-foot left building setback variance for a one-story addition was granted as well as a 5-foot left building setback variance for HVAC equipment at 235 LaPrado Place. The existing house is two-stories.
The applicants’ stated hardship is that the original 1928 house was located at an angle on the lot instead of square with it so that going straight back encroaches on the setback allowance. The owners presented letters from neighbors on both sides who were in favor of the variances. The variance was granted with a binding proffer not to enclose the screened porch, which will be a part of the addition.

Approved: A 1.5 foot right side setback for an HVAC unit replacement was approved at 865 Forest Drive, the hardship being the need for the new unit to replace the old one.

Approved: A 5-foot right side accessory structure setback was approved and a 5-foot rear accessory structure setback to renovate an existing garage and add an open air pool pavilion at 118 Bonita Drive. The hardship was due to the existing garage built in 1926 being located on the property line. A neighbor to the rear, on Hermosa Drive, spoke in favor of the variance.

Denied on a 3-2 split vote: A 1.2-foot left building setback variance for a partial second story addition to an existing house at 1810 Lancaster Road. However, a series of snafus included the absence of the owner because of a flight delay, the substitution of a friend who had no hard copies of the plans, only an electronic version on an iPad to show any detail to the board. The stated hardship was that the existing structure was already non-compliant, meaning any addition would require a variance. A neighbor across the street at 1809 Lancaster Road, said she was concerned about the inconvenience of construction, what the addition would look like and which trees would be lost. Her concerns were answered about the construction and design but she remained concerned about the loss of large “heirloom” trees. Mr. Cobb directed her to call James Wyatt, director of the city’s Inspection Services Department, to learn more about the city’s tree preservation ordinance. At a motion to approve, only Mr. Jarmon and Mr. Schaeffer voted in favor, and the request was denied.

Voting no: Ms. Gwaltney, Mr. McCain and Mr. Foster voted against the request, citing lack of information.

Approved: A 5-foot rear accessory structure variance was granted to replace an existing HVAC unit at 1703 Roseland Drive Unit 101. The hardship was the non-compliant existing HVAC unit.

A note to the board: After the last agenda item, Ms. Bridges and Ms. McGrath explained to the board that the zoning code requires nothing more from an applicant than a site plan. As a result, a lot of detail is not presented or made available at the time of the BZA meeting. So in many cases, when the board may ask for an elevation or some other detail, the applicant does not have it. This was just a point of clarification to the board from the staff.

The meeting was adjourned.


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