Board of Adjustment Hearing

March 10, 2014


The Clarkson Valley Board of Adjustment, pursuant to notices posted, met at City Hall in the Clarkson Executive Center to consider two agenda items.


            Board of Adjustment Members present were:

                        Darryl Brody, Chairperson

                        Jim Barry

                        Tom Berkeley

                        Jack Hauser

                        Paul Mercurio


The City Attorney, Mr. Patrick Butler attended and the City Clerk, Michele McMahon recorded the Minutes.  Alternate Board Members, Karen Koshak, Phyllis Newmark and Terry Rosenstrauch were unable to attend.  Alderpersons Schiller and Sittser also attended.


The City Attorney and Chairman explained to the two petitioners they are present tonight to ask this Board to permit a variance from the Clarkson Valley Code 405.060.E.3. establishing that no building shall intrude upon the area required for front, side and rear yards by proving practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships in the carrying out of the provisions of the code due to topographic or other conditions.  A Board for these adjustment requests consists of five members and a concurring vote of four (4) members of the Board shall be necessary to effect a variation in the Zoning Ordinance.  The Chairperson then asked the petitioners if they had objections to any of the Members of the Board of Adjustment, to which they responded they did not.  He then asked the Board Members if they had an opportunity to view both properties to which all stated they had.  After the meeting was called to order and protocol established, the petitioners, their architect, contractor, and four residents of the Kehrs Mill Estates Subdivision were sworn in.  Darryl Brody read the Notice of Public Hearing for both agenda items. 


Mr. Mike Harrison with The Pool Specialists, introduced himself stating he is the pool designer.  He introduced Mr. and Mrs. John and Sarah Saunders and stated they were present tonight to request a variance to 16727 Kehrsgrove Drive to: construct a swim pool and Keystone System retaining wall on the west side of the property that would encroach 11' 9" into the rear yard setback on the west side. 


            He described the safe environment the Saunders were attempting to create for the family's sake by having a fence and gate between the house and pool opposed to the door opening into the pool area.  He said they researched online other proposals in the City that went before this Board, and found this request to be reasonable.  He further explained the necessity to stay four (4) feet from the existing retaining walls due to code constraints and explained there were several walls behind the house.  They brought up the eleven (11) feet drop in the back yard and the fact that the closer they move the pool to the house, the taller the wall holding the pool would be.  Right now they're proposing four-to-five (4-5) feet at its tallest instead of an eight (8) feet tall wall.


            Responses to the Trustees comments from a letter dated February 24, 2014:  The pool will not be visible from the street.  The pool will drain to the street opposed to the rear of the property. 


There were a few comments from the Board, one of which regarded the lack of fencing at the pool wall with the question posed:  How deep was the pool at the edge of the wall to which Mr. Harrison responded six (6) feet.  A further question was posed if the Saunders were not concerned with children falling off the wall.  Mrs. Saunders said her biggest concern was not the ability of the children getting out of the pool from that wall but from them entering the pool from the house when she was not with them. 


The Chairman called for proponents, to which there were none.


The call for opponents gave the floor to Richard Fox who was speaking for himself, Mr. Steve Reed and Mrs. Dennis McCormick.  He stated the concern being the six (6) feet and four (4) feet tall Keystone walls saying it would be an eyesore.  He said the site plan indicates existing brush which no longer exists; mentioned drainage problems; and 1,350 square feet of non-permeable pavement.  The Chairman stated, from a visual standpoint, the opponents might have a worse scenario with a nine (9) feet wall if the Saunders were to construct the pool within the building lines.  Mr. Fox stated they did not want a pool even if it were constructed within the building lines.


Mr. Fox repeated the contractor's statement that there wouldn't be any change to the ground because of this project and disagreed, stating the drainage would change due to the non-permeable surface.  In response, the contractor stated they would have to create a new drainage system that doesn't currently exist.  It entails a sixty (60) feet long French drain.  He also mentioned the possibility of a rain garden, which would cost $5,000 to $6,000 additional and a perforated drain that percolates runoff into the ground.


Mr. Reed introduced himself, stating he resides at an adjacent property at 2226 Kehrsglen.  He raised the issue of the drainage stating his house sits downhill from the Saunders.  The actual distance is less than fifty (50) feet that is required between the two properties and the size of the pool the Saunders are proposing reflects upon their unconcern with adjoining properties.  Concluding that the Saunders' removed a majority of vegetation with no replacement having taken place as yet.


Mr. Scott Thompson introduced himself, stating he resides at 16721 Kehrsgrove Drive and was originally only going to discuss one issue - that of the drainage.  But after listening to the comments, he finds he has to also comment on the fence issue.  He said a six (6) year-old can step around those fences.  He, personally, would do safety first and extend the fence all the way around the project.  In discussing the drainage issue, he said his main concern is that the proposal is a rather aggressive request.  Further commenting that, "it's like Disneyland moving next door."  He concluded by saying, "a little bit of landscaping in the right area and then he would be okay with it."


Mr. Saunders spoke about the removal of vegetation, which he explained was honeysuckle that over-grew the sprinkler heads in his back yard.  He subsequently planted five (5) evergreens.  With respect to the Disneyland effect - he stated he and his wife respect the neighborhood and want a pool that would meet the standards of the city. 


There were no further questions.  There was no one from the City to speak on the proposal.


The City Attorney, Patrick Butler explained to the Board Members the intent of the zoning code and read the merits and conclusion portion contained therein. 


Darryl Brody read the Agenda item again and then asked the Members for their factual determination of the proposal for the pool and retaining wall (amended to state: six (6) feet tall with a four (4) feet tall fence), to which: question (1) four are not, one are (2) five will, (3) four will not, one will, (4) three will not, two will, (5) two will not, three will, (6) five will not.


The Chairperson then called for a vote of approval/disapproval to grant the desired variance for the pool and retaining walls to extend approximately 11' 9" beyond the rear building line with the following results:  Yeas: There were no yeas.  Nays:  Barry, Berkeley, Brody, Hauser, and Mercurio. 


The Chairperson declared the Saunders request for variance as having been denied. 


Darryl Brody gave the floor to Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Angela Walsh who are requesting a variance for new construction on a corner lot with a garage that would encroach twenty (20) feet into the required 75' front yard set back at one corner and ten (10) feet into the required 75' side yard set back on the west side. 


            Mr. Walsh introduced himself, his wife, Angela and the architect, Lauren Strutman.  He said he and his family moved into a home on Jennycliffe Lane in Clarkson Valley ten years ago.  They recently purchased the house at 40 Forest Club Drive and tore down the house.  They would like to construct a new house with a request for two variances. 


The first variance, he explained, regards the distance from the street.  He would like to keep his new construction consistent with that of the neighboring properties and the location of the previous home, further explaining there are four existing houses sit back approximately 50' from the street. 


The second variance, he stated they would like to place one corner of the building on the west side ten feet into the side yard to allow for drainage around the house.  He described the unique lot, saying from front-to-back, there is approximately a 23' drop.


Board Member, Jim Barry introduced himself to the Walsh's saying he basically lives in one of the first houses on the opposite side of Forest Club Drive from theirs.  He asked if there is any reason to move the house back to which Mrs. Walsh responded that drainage is an issue.  The 3-to-1 slope was also mentioned.


            The City Attorney, Patrick Butler, asked Mr. and Mrs. Walsh if they could fit the construction within the building lines, to which they both responded affirmatively.  He then asked if the Walsh's could build a two-car garage instead of a three-car garage, to which they responded they could.


            Mrs. Strutman concluded by saying the Walsh's thought long and hard about the alternatives and felt this request was not only best for their interests, but also for the interests of the trustees and neighbors, who all agreed it would be best. 


A call for proponents and opponents was made, to which there were none. There was no one from the City to speak on behalf of the proposal.  There were no further questions. 


The City Attorney, Patrick Butler reminded the Board Members of the intent of the zoning code and the merits and conclusion portion contained therein. 


Mr. Brody then asked the Members for their factual determination for the five (5) feet on Fairlake side and twenty (20) on the Forest Club Drive side, to which: question (1) four are, one are not, (2) two will, three will not, (3) four will not, one will, (4) five will not, (5) five will not, (6) five will. 


The Chairperson then called for a vote of approval/disapproval to grant the desired variance for the new construction to encroach 20’ beyond the 75' front building line and 5' beyond the 75' side yard building line with the following results:  Yeas: Barry, Berkeley, Brody, Hauser, and Mercurio.  There were no nays. 


The Chairperson declared the Walsh’s request for variance for the new construction to encroach 20’ beyond the 75' front building line and 5' beyond the 75' side yard building line as having been approved.  Darryl Brody then advised Mr. and Mrs. Walsh that the variance granted by the Board is based upon what took place tonight.  Any change will negate the variance that was granted at this meeting. 


            The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.




                                                            Michele McMahon

                                                            City Clerk

                                                            City of Clarkson Valley




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