Board of Zoning Adjustments, Dec. 1, 2016

BZAOne case on Mayfair had been withdrawn before the meeting. The board didn’t encounter any easy decisions on the remaining three Edgewood cases, which took 90 minutes to produce rulings and not always happy results. As in past cases, one involved projects that had been started without permits or variances while another involved a tear-down and planned two-level new residence on a narrow, irregularly shaped lot. A third homeowner left mad that regulations to be enforced on his property had been waived or overlooked on neighboring lots.

Members present: Brian Jarmon, Lauren Gwaltney, chair, Jeffrey Foster, vice chair, Ty Cole, Beverly LeBoeuf, and Matt Foley.

Members absent: Stuart Roberts and Batallion Chief Nickolas Hill.

Staff present: Greg Cobb, and Fred Goodwin of the Building, Engineering and Zoning Department; Planning and zoning clerk Donna Bridges.

Audience attendance: 10

*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 (S) to sit in and vote if needed. Tonight there were only four present for the first three cases, meaning each vote had to be unanimous to pass, which they were. Variances expire in 180 days if a building permit isn’t obtained.

1305 Kenilworth Drive

305 Kenilworth Drive

Granted one variance but forced relocating structures on both sides of a house on Kenilworth: The homeowners at 305 Kenilworth Drive had stop-work orders issued on two noncompliant projects that were either completed or in progress when discovered. By the end of a protracted discussion in which a future neighbor at 307 Kenilworth spoke against the variance (see next case), the owner agreed to relocate a right-side wire fence he had built over his neighbor’s property line and a wooden storage shed in line with that fence whose metal roof drained rainwater onto the neighboring property. (A fence alone can be built on the line, but a storage structure must be five feet from the line unless a variance is granted.) In discussion, the neighbors were accompanied by builder Colt Byron, who built the left-side house and is planning a tear-down and rebuild on the right side.

pergola

A partially built deck will have to be moved to 5 feet from the property line.

On the left property side, the owner had built what he called a “pergola,” a deck and frame roof that occupied most of the setback area, being less than a foot from the property line. The required setback for the structure is 9 feet, but with the  neighbor’s permission, the board granted a variance to allow it 5 feet from the left property line.

The homeowner at first asked for a variance to leave the pergola as is, but was warned that an unfavorable vote would require tearing it down entirely or moving it completely outside of the 9-foot setback, i.e., elsewhere on the property. There being no other room–with the back of the lot extending into a Griffin Creek flood zone–he took the board’s advice and was granted a variance allowing the deck 5 feet from the line.

307 Kenilworth Drive

307 Kenilworth Drive

Granted in two separate votes to allow a new 2-story house on Kenilworth: The homeowner at 307 Kenilworth, who spoke in the previous case about his neighbor’s fence, was granted two variances to allow a 34-foot two-level house on an irregular lot that backs onto Griffin Creek and a flood zone. The board granted a 2.5-foot right setback variance (6 inches less than originally requested) because the house is positioned on a lot that is narrower in the rear than on the street. On the left side, and with one dissenting vote, the board granted a 2-foot variance to allow a chimney to protrude into the setback.

The builder and owner listened to but refused suggestions that the design could be altered at this stage to fit within the required setbacks. The house will have off-street parking for two cars on a concrete pad in the front.

Voting no to the chimney variance:  Matt Foley

713 Morris Avenue

713 Morris Boulevard

Granted a reduced right side variance for a carport behind a Morris house, and carried over an expanded rear variance request: The homeowner’s corner house faces Morris Boulevard, with the right side facing Cliff Place. An alley running parallel to the Morris houses exits onto Cliff behind the homeowner’s house. The homeowner plans to remove a storage building in back to make way for a master bathroom and a covered patio outside. The couple has been parking on a driveway off the alley and wants to build a 22-foot carport entered from Cliff Road, instead, and remove the unused pavement. As planned, the carport would have extended over 11 feet from the corner of the house almost to the property line. After discussion, the board approved a 1.5-foot right setback variance instead of 3.5 feet, as earlier requested, after the homeowner agreed to to shorten the carport by two feet.

morris-side-view

Side view of 713 Morris showing current driveway to the alley and approximate new drive and carport area. [2015 picture taken from Google Maps]

However, the homeowner lost his temper when board members refused to vote on a rear variance request he increased from 3 feet to 6 feet into the alley setback. Regulations call for a 20-foot setback from alleyways, which the homeowner said had been violated repeatedly at other houses up and down  Morris. The board, dismissing that argument, said the law didn’t allow them to consider an increased variance request without giving public notice. The homeowner agreed to take a vote on the 3 feet variance and return later to ask for more. The 3-foot variance was passed with one dissenting vote.

Voting no to the 3-foot rear variance: LeBoeuf

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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