While most cases sailed through to approval, a creative lot division and housing plan proposed on Lucerne brought out five households to protest and was withdrawn before the board could vote an almost guaranteed denial. Developer Ben Strout proposed dividing a large property into three smaller, oddly shaped lots to overcome difficulties with the lay of the land. Those difficulties together with a substantially smaller lot area and width stopped the case before it came to a vote. Shown is one of three proposed new house designs, which also are subject to change.
Members present: Brian Jarmon, Jeffrey Foster (S), vice chair, Beverly LeBoeuf, Matt Foley, and Stuart Roberts (S).
Members absent: Lauren Gwaltney, chair, Ty Cole, and Batallion Chief Nickolas Hill.
Staff present: Greg Cobb of the Building, Engineering and Zoning Department; Planning and zoning clerk Donna Bridges and planner Fred Goodwin.
Audience attendance: 22
*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.
Granted a right side variance for an addition on Edgewood Blvd.: Builder Joe Ellis was granted a 2.6-foot right setback variance for an new residence with a larger footprint at 417 Edgewood Blvd. The variance is on the driveway side, which faces the creek, and was approved with little discussion.
Granted a right side setback variance for an addition on Lancaster: Architect Alex Krumdieck was granted a 2.9-foot variance for a bath and laundry addition at 1802 Lancaster Road.
Granted, after long discussion, a variance for a front porch addition on Woodland: The builder’s plan is to camouflage the outdated split-level facade at 416 Woodland Drive by adding an open front porch on the right side, an aesthetic move that involved no real hardship but was passed nevertheless. Board members raised a few concerns, one, that the
house was already prominent on the street and pushing the front line forward would make it more so; and two, that a rendering showing siding, dark painted garage doors and heavy timbers be “lightened up.” The builder’s concept drawing was subject to change and not open to debate, however. Without objection from neighbors, the board voted unanimously to allow the porch to be built 6 feet into the required setback.
Granted one variance and denied another on a returning rear deck case on Devon: The homeowner at 216 Devon Drive salvaged part of a request to roof an extensive rear and side wraparound deck that failed in a November hearing. The builder reduced the original 8.5-foot variance request to 5.4-feet by eliminating the proposed roof over the side portion, which is a walkway to the rear. (It was pointed out that an uncovered deck can be built as close as 5 feet from the property line, but once roofed, it must follow the stricter setbacks of the main house.) Board members in November had voted no, saying the side deck already crowded the property line and citing concerns over rain running off onto the neighbor’s yard. This time, the request was only to extend the current roof line straight back to cover the a rear deck, requiring a variance of 5.4 feet into the setback.
However, the board was still concerned by an additional unroofed “grilling deck” to the right side of the back. Sensing another denial, the builder took staff advice and split the vote, getting a unanimous approval for the roofed rear portion and a denial for the grilling deck.
Voting against the deck extension: Foster, Jarmon, and Roberts.
WITHDRAWN – A developer facing neighborhood opposition will rethink a strange lot division proposed on Lucerne: Developer Ben Strout of Harvest Innovations, Inc., asked for a substantial variance (2,244 square feet) to allow a smaller lot area at 169 Lucerne Boulevard for a new house. The lot in question would be one of three original lots that had been consolidated years ago into a large residential property, now purchased for redevelopment. The developer stated as his hardship that the owners had sold a strip of the land to a neighbor, leaving a smaller area to be divided. However, as neighbors pointed out, the property had many other complications, including a drain easement and storm sewer that had washed out the rear of the left lot (#157), which the developer had recently packed with fill dirt.
To accommodate those problems, the developer proposed a strange redrawing to preserve lot frontage on the street for two houses but which would set the new center house far back from the street (shown). Five neighbors on Lucerne objected to the development, citing the storm sewer, easement, a concern over the stability of the filled area and housing inconsistent with the character and density of the surrounding neighborhood.
Mr. Strout, who said he plans to live in one of the new houses, said the design quality would far outweigh any concerns about lot size or layout. Nevertheless, he offered that the property could be divided evenly into rectangular lots, but each would be narrower at the street — about 73 feet across compared to an average of 80 feet — and require area variances for all three instead of just one.
The board wasn’t inclined to discuss the plans further for all the reasons cited, and encouraged the developer to talk to his future neighbors before pressing ahead. He took that advice, and the case was withdrawn.
Granted two variances for a house addition on Grove Place: The homeowner at 1601 Grove Place plans to build an upper level addition, requiring a 1 foot (.8-feet existing) variance on the left side and a 3.5-foot variance on the right side for the length of a ventless fire insert to be built where the current chimney is now. The chimney is unstable and will be removed. With letters of support from neighbors on the left, and a driveway and alley providing buffer on the right, the board was satisfied with the requests and granted the variances.