Board of Adjustment Hearing

October 3, 2013


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

                        Tom Berkeley

                        Jack Hauser

                        Phyllis Newmark

                        Terry Rosenstrauch


The City Attorney, Mr. Patrick Butler attended and the City Clerk, Michele McMahon recorded the Minutes.  Board Members Jim Barry, Karen Koshak, and Paul Mercurio were unable to attend.  Alderpersons Schiller and Sittser, both from Ward 2, were also in attendance.


The City Attorney and Chairman explained to the two petitioners that 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 or structure 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 were sworn in.  Darryl Brody read the Notice of Public Hearing for both agenda items and the Board agreed to amend Agenda Item 1, to read: no more than 26' to the rear setback for the fence instead of 50'; and Agenda Item 2, to read: front yard, opposed to side yard because the Quirin's property fronts two streets. 


Darryl Brody read Agenda Item 1, as amended:  to construct a pool, deck, hot tub, and fire pit that will encroach 10'9" into the rear yard setback and a fence that will encroach 26'0" into the rear yard setback (and according to the Amended Memo generated by the Building Commissioner, dated 10-3-13 and entered as an exhibit 11'0" into the side yard setback).


Mrs. Amy Cantor introduced herself and said she and her husband have lived in Clarkson Valley for 18 years.  They have three children; 18, 17 and 9 and have always wanted a swim pool.  She stated they were present tonight to request a variance to their side and rear building lines.  She explained that when they first contacted the pool company they looked at the site plan to see where the pool could best be situated.  They decided if they placed the pool too close to the house, the older teens and their friends might be tempted to use the deck to jump into the pool.  Also, she feared that younger children or elderly adults might tumble from the deck stairs into the pool.  Jeff Melvin, the salesman with Premier Pools & Spas, mentioned to the Board Members that St. Louis County does not have a code restriction mandating a minimum space between a pool and deck, but industry standards suggest a minimum of 8' between the two.  He said this project is 10' from the deck. 


            Mark Cantor spoke about the fence, stating they originally wanted a perimeter fence to blend in with their neighbor's fence, but after speaking with neighbors and friends, they decided not to do that.  He said, instead they will place the fence encircling the pool and decking then landscape between their fence and their neighbor's fence. 


There were a few questions asked of the Cantors.  What would happen if the request for the 10'9" variance were split in half?  To which the response was if you rotated the pool to the right it would be the same farthest point - so nothing would be gained.  Questions about the possibility of children jumping into or out of the Jacuzzi were asked.  Mr. Cantor said, with that comment in mind, they would move the Jacuzzi closer to the building line and farther from the deck. 


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


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.  He also mentioned the Board's decision should be based on whether the petitioner has met the burden of providing evidence of practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships warranting relief from the strict application of the zoning ordinances and reminded the Board that safety of individuals is not a hardship.


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


The Chairperson then called for a vote of approval/disapproval to grant the desired variance for the pool to extend approximately 10'9" and the fence to encroach no more than 26' beyond the rear building line, with the following results:  Yeas:  Brody, Berkeley, Hauser, and Newmark. Nays:  Rosenstrauch.


The Chairperson declared the Cantorís request for variance for the pool and fence as having been approved.  Darryl Brody then advised Mr. and Mrs. Cantor 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. 


Darryl Brody read the amended Agenda Item 2, to construct a stacked-stone retaining wall 28.5' beyond the 75' front yard building line and mentioned the landscape wall is already in place and looks as though it's almost completed.  Mr. Roger Quirin confirmed that the project just needed the finishing capstone.  He explained the reason they put up the wall was that a large pine was removed which left a bare spot.  Their intent upon completion of the wall was to plant trees around the area along with a smaller decorative tree beyond the wall.  They were also going to plant ivy that would cascade over the wall.


            One Board Member commented that normal procedure was to contact the homeowner before the visit to learn more about the project and to arrange a time to view the property in person, but there was a note on the application indicating the homeowner did now want to be contacted.  He asked Mr. Quirin why they couldn't be contacted?  Mr. Quirin was unsure and turned to the City Clerk, who reported that Mrs. Quirin made the edict out of frustration but had reinforced that she was serious.


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 landscape wall (not to exceed 20" in height from grade nor longer than 34') to encroach beyond the front yard setback by 28.5í, to which: question (1) five are not, (2) five will, (3) five will not, (4) five will not, (5) five will not, (6) five will not.


The Chairperson then called for a vote of approval/disapproval to grant the desired variance for the landscape wall with the following results:  Yeas: Berkeley, Hauser and Newmark.  Nays:  Brody and Rosenstrauch.


The Chairperson declared the Quirin's request for variance for landscape wall as having been denied.  Mr. Quirin asked if there was anything he could do to keep the wall?  Holding another Board of Adjustment Meeting was raised with the possibility of getting a different panel of Board Members.  He then asked how much time he would have to remove the wall to which the City Clerk said that would be up to the Building Commissioner but that thirty (30) days would likely be the answer.


            The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.




                                                            Michele McMahon

                                                            City Clerk

                                                            City of Clarkson Valley