Two applicants asked for retroactive variances after building beyond code limits, but only one did so successfully. Spectators were stunned when the board ordered down a protruding chimney built prior to a variance request–testing the old adage that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Another variance request was denied on a split vote, and a third was carried over. The remaining four cases were approved.
Members present: All–Brian Jarmon, Jeffrey Foster, Beverly LeBoeuf, Lauren Gwaltney, and Ty Cole. Hope Cannon arrived after the fourth case.
Members absent: Hope Cannon was absent for the first four cases.
Staff present: Greg Cobb and Vanessa McGrath, Building, Engineering, and Zoning Department; Donna Bridges, board secretary.
Audience attendance: 14
*Note on procedure: By state law, zoning variances granted by the 5-member board require a super majority of 4 members voting in the affirmative. To keep business moving in case of absences, the law also allows two substitutes (S) to sit in and vote if needed. All decisions are made following a public hearing. Variances expire in 180 days if a building permit isn’t obtained.
All votes are unanimous unless otherwise noted.
Approved May meeting minutes.
Approved a variance allowing a second-story addition on Clermont Drive: The owner of 302 Clermont Drive asked for and received a left building setback variance of approximately 3 feet to allow for a second floor addition, contingent on being able to use the existing foundation and the left exterior wall to support the second story.
Denied a variance allowing a fireplace chimney that had already been built: William Siegel of Twin Construction requested a variance to allow a chimney to protrude from the right side of a new house under construction at 403 Hambaugh Avenue. The original plans called for the chimney on the back of the house, but the homeowner wanted it moved to the side, and without taking up interior space. Perhaps because Twin had received such variances in the past–or had mentioned the situation informally to board members last month–the company built the chimney before making the request. (The chimney is 12 feet, 7 inches from the neighboring house, requiring a variance of 2 feet, 4 inches.)
With one member calling the hardship “self-inflicted,” the board voted unanimously to deny. The chimney must come down.
Denied a variance allowing more room for a second floor addition on Melrose Place: The homeowner at 1007 Melrose Place requested a 6-foot left side setback variance in connection with a second story addition. The house is now 4 feet, 4 inches from the left property line and about 9 feet from the house next door. On an unfavorable vote that clearly upset the homeowner, members denied the variance for its close proximity to the neighboring house.
Voting no: Beverly LeBeouf, Jeffrey Foster, and Lauren Gwaltney.
Approved a variance for the setback requirement for a shed on Oglesby Avenue: A homeowner at 108 Oglesby Avenue asked for a variance after replacing a non-compliant storage shed with a new shed, explaining he didn’t realize he needed a zoning variance to do so. According to discussion, the applicant had rebuilt a deteriorating storage shed that was only 6 inches from the property line with another one placed further from the house, but still the same distance from the lot line. He said the irregular shape of the lot and small back yard determined the location, and members agreed.
Approved variances allowing a Windsor Drive renovation. The house at 117 Windsor Drive has been before the BZA a number of times and received variances that were not acted on. Now a major renovation is underway at this corner lot, and architect Warren Kyle requested a 3-foot left side variance and an 11.25-foot rear variance to build into the setbacks, citing as hardships the lot’s irregular shape and slope, and the desire to use an existing retaining wall and steps.
BZA member Hope Cannon arrived.
Approved setback and parking variances for a Creative Montessori school renovation and expansion. The Creative Montessori School, 1650 28th Court South, is renovating its campus, and the plans call for building a new covered drop-off location with a rain canopy that extends into the setback. The school was granted a 3-foot variance for placement of the overhang.
Most of the discussion, however, related to the request for a variance waiving the requirement for 16 onsite parking spaces. (Regulations require 30 total spaces and the school will end up with only 14 after construction.) The school’s preferred plan calls for expanding parking out to the street in front of and around the sides of the building, to conserve green space on campus. After extensive discussion of alternatives, the board approved the school’s requested variance from the normal on-site parking requirement.
Carried over an application for setback variances for a Broadway Street house. [This case at 307 Broadway was carried over because it was advertised as an addition rather than new reconstruction, and will be heard again in August.] The house is under contract, contingent on the buyer’s ability to get zoning adjustments to build a bigger house. The buyer originally wanted to add a second story, but changed his mind after submitting a variance application because of contractor concerns about foundation support. During the public hearing, a spokesman for a neighbor asked if the buyer planned to cut down magnolia tree if the variances were granted. The buyer said he would cut down the tree in any case and understood he needed a permit to do so.
One board member advised him that it is hard to justify building outside of zoning regulations when the construction is new, and he should consider keeping the lower story intact within the existing 5-foot setback.
The meeting adjourned at 7:33 pm.