The popular Wheelhouse salon on Linden can’t expand as planned unless it finds 15 additional parking spaces for increased space (and presumably customers). At long last, the homeowners at 222 Devon received a variance to allow repair and expansion of a rear patio, at the same time re-routing a city sidewalk on Hampton to improve visibility exiting their garage.
Members present: Hope Cannon (through the first three cases), Lauren Gwaltney, chair, Jeffrey Foster, vice-chair (S),* Beverly LeBoeuf, and Stuart Roberts (S).*
Members absent: Ty Cole. Hope Cannon left after the third case.
Note: Hope Cannon’s term has expired but she continues to serve until the council appoints another member from Ward 5.
Staff present: Greg Cobb, Vanessa McGrath, and Fred Goodwin of the Building, Engineering and Zoning Department; Planning and zoning clerk Donna Bridges.
Audience attendance: 24
*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 supernumerary members (substitutes (S)) to sit in and vote if needed. Tonight, in the absence of one regular member, the supernumerary members took turns voting. Variances expire in 180 days if a building permit isn’t obtained.
Granted variances for an addition on Kenilworth: The owners of 410 Kenilworth Drive had built a deck on the left rear corner of the house, infringing into the setback, which wasn’t noticed because the city didn’t require a foundation survey before inspecting it. However, in view of the relatively low height of the deck, the circumstances leading up to request, and the proffer from Twin Construction that no roof would ever be added, the variance for a 3-foot left building setback (two feet already in use) was granted unanimously with little discussion.
Denied a variances to waive additional parking for a commercial addition on Linden: 2904 Linden Avenue Second floor for hair salon Johnny Grimes owner. Johnny Grimes, owner of the Wheelhouse Salon at 2904 Linden Avenue, wanted to double the size of his building by adding a second story, but hoped to receive a variance waiving the requirement to provide 15 more parking spaces. The building now has 15 parking spaces, 10 of which are located in the back, accessible via an alley not visible from the front of the building. By code, the increased size would require 15 additional spaces. The board, with one exception, voted against this waiver.
Owners of the neighboring businesses–Fretted Instruments and Inside Out–both objected to the request, stating they already had problems with Wheelhouse customers parking on their property.
After an extended discussion of the current parking situation and despite the philosophy behind less stringent parking requirements in the West Homewood Village district and the owner’s attempts to prevent customers from parking on neighboring properties, his plans for future expansion persuaded the board to deny the request.
Voting in favor of the variance: Lauren Gwaltney
Granted a variance to allow an addition on Grace Street, across from the Community Garden: The owner of the house at 1209 Grace Street was granted a 1-foot variance to allow an addition on the back of her house. The left side already protrudes 10 inches into the lot line setback on that side. The builder explained that the hardship supporting the variance was being able to extend the left side of the house straight back, with no inset towards the rear. (He does plan an inset on the right side, which is less visible from the street.) In response to questions from the board, he explained that the roof line of the house would remain unchanged. The request was therefore approved.
Granted a variance for an addition on Somerset: An architect representing the owners of 1538 Somerset Drive requested a 2-foot left setback variance to allow a master bathroom addition on the left rear of the house. The hardship justifying the exemption was the triangular shape of the lot and the fact that fire safety code requires a 3-foot escape window in the master bedroom, which necessitated more space. The architect plans no changes to the roof line on that side of the house, but does intend to make some additions to the right side of the house (requiring no variance). The variance request was granted unanimously, based on the submitted drawings.
On a split vote, granted lot size variances for a new house on Oxmoor:
Jason Hale of Willow Homes presented a case for allowing a 5-foot narrower lot width than required in connection with his plan to purchase the property, owned by the estate of Betty Smith, at 124 Oxmoor Road in West Homewood, refurbish the existing house on the left side of the property, and build a new house on the right side.
Hale explained that no variance would be needed if he tore down the existing house and split the property evenly, but he wished to preserve the existing house to make the project financially profitable. There were also issues with an irregular lot shape and the existence of a ditch/creek on the property, but board members said the desire to preserve the existing house was the most compelling hardship in support of the request.
Neighbors on Edgeknoll Lane spoke during the public hearing to request more information, specifically how close the house would be to their lot line, but after examining a survey and hearing more details, expressed no objection. After a lengthy discussion of the size of the proposed new house (approximately 1500 square feet, but this is not binding) and its proposed orientation on the property (facing Edgeknoll), the Bboard approved the request, subject to a proffer that the size of the new house would not exceed 48 feet by 33 feet.
Voting no: Jeffrey Foster.(Finally) granted a variance on a third request for a complicated addition on Devon Drive: The board granted a 5-foot right setback variance to allow construction of a screened-in porch at 222 Devon Drive. The homewowners have been before city boards multiple times concerning the raised patio on the side of their house facing Hampton Drive. In October 2014 they received a 4-foot variance to completely enclose the patio, but allowed it to expire without applying for a permit during the 180-day period. In April 2016 they returned seeking a 9-foot variance, again with the hope of completely enclosing the space, but that request was denied. Tonight they were back with a new plan to screen in the patio, requesting a variance to allow room for the roof supports to be placed on new footings outside the existing patio. The plan involves a separate proposal — approved in August 2015 by the city council, with no expiration date–to relocate the sidewalk on Hampton closer to the street for better visibility as they back out of the garage. The view of the street is blocked somewhat by a retaining wall.
The Board approved their variance request unanimously.