Board of Adjustment Hearing

October 15, 2007 

The Clarkson Valley Board of Adjustment, pursuant to notices posted at City Hall in the Fru-Con Building met to consider three agenda items.   

            Board of Adjustment members present were:

                        Darryl Brody, Chairperson

                        Walter DeGrendele

                        Stan Green

                        Phyllis Newmark

                        Terry Rosenstrauch 

The City Attorney, Mr. Patrick Butler attended and the City Clerk, Michele McMahon recorded the Minutes.   

After the meeting was called to order and protocol established, Chairman Darryl Brody explained there were three items shown on the agenda; however, the petitioner for agenda item number-two was found to not have proper submittals and would be attending a subsequent meeting when the architect has drawn the front, rear and side elevations.  It was declared this item would be removed from the agenda.  The Chairman also noted the first agenda item required amending as well as the Memo from the Building Commissioner, both gave incorrect footage requests for the variance.   

Mr. Brody asked if everyone had an opportunity to view the properties, to which all Commission Members affirmed they had.  He then asked the two petitioners if they had objections to any of the Members of the Board of Adjustment comprising the quorum?  To which the two petitioners responded they did not.  He swore in those members in the audience wishing to address the Commission regarding both remaining agenda items.  They were Mr. Geoffrey and Mrs. Paula Douglass; Dan McCart, representing Drs. Edwards and Jones; Scott Schultz, Trustee of Forest Hills Club Estates; Honora Schiller, Alderperson serving Ward 2 and representing herself as a homeowner four doors from one of the petitioners; and Eugene Mleczko, who resides at 9 Chippenham, across the street from Drs. Edwards and Jones. 

The Chairperson read the amended Notice of Public Hearing for the first agenda item regarding Mr. and Mrs. Douglass's request: To construct a proposed garage addition that would encroach 13' 3-3/4" on the 75' rear building line. 

Mr. Geoffrey Douglass introduced himself and his wife, gave the correct spelling of his name and gave his address for the record.  He stated he was seeking a variance request to enlarge an existing two-car garage to a three-car garage.  He said he was requesting it be located in the rear as this would be the least obtrusive.  When he originally proposed this to the architect, there were three ways to enlarge the garage, all three would require a variance.  A bump-out to the front was proposed, but there were mature trees that would require removal.  Plus they did not want to go that much forward of the house.  They could have gone to the side, but again would have to remove mature trees, plus there is a swale for water runoff that would require relocating - along with the driveway being relocated.  From the rear, even though the lot abuts Kehrs Mill Road, there is no way the garage addition could be seen due to landscaping.   

Frank Hodgdon, who is the Planning and Zoning Chairman, spoke on the proposal as a proponent.  He said he had no problem with this request and explained that because the Douglass's lot fronts and backs two streets, their building footprint is particularly narrow.   

There were no opponents.  

Mr. Brody said if this proposal were approved tonight, the full working plans would be required along with an application for a building permit.   

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.   

The Chairperson, Darryl Brody, asked the Members for their factual determination of the proposal to which: question (1) five are, (2) five will not, (3) five will, (4) five will not, (5) five will not, (6) five will. 

The Chairperson then called for a vote for the amended application to grant the desired variance for Geoffrey Douglass's garage with the following results:  Yeas:  Brody, DeGrendele, Green, Newmark, and Rosenstrauch.  There were no nays.  The Chairperson declared the petition as being approved.  The Chairperson advised Mr. Douglass that the variance granted by the Board is based upon the plans, which were submitted tonight.  Any change in those plans will negate the variance that was granted at this meeting. 

Darryl Brody then read the Notice of Public Hearing for the third agenda item regarding Drs. Charmaine Edwards and Osman Jones's request: To receive permission for two newly-constructed lighted driveway pillars built framing existing lamp posts approximately 71' beyond the front setback. 

Mr. Dan McCart of Legacy Homes introduced himself and stated he was the Edwards/Jones's contractor and was here tonight representing the petitioners.  He first apologized for the pillars being installed without a permit and related how he and his partner, Brian, applied for and were granted a permit for a remodeling project to the front of the home at 10 Chippenham Lane in May of this year.  They hired sub-contractors to do the stone and brickwork for this project and the subs were the ones that convinced the Edwards/Jones's they could refinish the lampposts and that permits were not necessary because the pillars contained no footings.  Through discussion, it could not be determined on the site plan where the street ended and where the easement began and where, within those constraints, the pillars were located. 

A call for proponents came and there was none.   

Mr. Scott Schultz, Chairman of Forest Hills Club Estates Homeowners Association spoke as an opponent saying he and several other trustees approved the initial project, which did not contain the pillars.  He said that last week he met with several of the trustees to review the pillar request and they did not approve it.  He said in this particular instance, there were two pillars containing one composition and a mailbox monument of a different material.  "Our position as Trustees", he said, "is we will not approve these.  As far as we know, they are in the easement."   

Mr. Walter DeGrendele, who sits on the Board, reminded those present that while he served at Forest Hills Club Estates Chairman of Homeowners Association, a similar situation arose.  The Meirs moved to Greenbank Drive at the southeast corner of Crownhill and promptly began construction on the home's interior with no permit.  While stop work orders were being initiated, pallets of brick were delivered and placed at the ends of the circular driveway, indicating that pillars were going to be built.  The Meirs attended several Board of Adjustment Hearings and ultimately were denied their requests.  The Meirs moved out of the City and upon sale of the Meirs home, the Trustees resolved the matter by contracting to have the pillars removed - at the subdivision's expense.  He concluded by saying the reason they were never granted a variance was one of liability.  If it is in a subdivision easement, who takes on the responsibility of liability?  There is also a similar situation across the street from Dr. Edwards.   

The Chairman, Darryl Brody, reminded everyone that all streets within the subdivisions are owned by the subdivisions.  The City Attorney stated that if you look at Federal Law, all of these pillars and monuments should contain breakaway designs, but the Fed doesn't regulate that so Clarkson Valley decided they couldn't regulate it either.  Mr. Frank Hodgdon stated that it is a terrible liability for a subdivision. 

Mr. Eugene Mleczko introduced himself as a neighbor who lives across the street from the Edwards/Jones's.  He informed those present that Chippenham Lane has a 40' wide right-of-way.  He threw in for the record that Seven Oaks and Forest Club Drives contained 50' wide rights-of-way.  He said that Chippenham contained 22' of pavement on either side that is owned by the subdivision and additionally a 9' swath from the curb extending inward on each property - owned by the subdivision but maintained by each homeowner.  There is no question the property in question has pillars located in the right-of-way.  He also indicated there is a utility easement in each of the two side yards.  Mr. Mleczko did state for the record, however, the lampposts were in existence when he bought his home in May 1978. 

Mrs. Honora Schiller introduced herself, stating she serves as Alderperson from Ward 2 and she also lives several houses down from the Edwards/Jones's house.  She agreed the pillars existed, but she never noticed them until they were boxed-in with white stone veneer.  Now, she said, as soon as you turn onto her side of Chippenham Lane, all you see are the pillars. 

At this point, Mr. McCart asked those present to read the definition of structure sometime when they get a chance.  He feels, and would hope some agree, the definition is vague.  Then he asked that this request for variance be tabled until a future date and until the time a more accurate site plan and information regarding elevations can be secured. 

Mr. Brody asked the Members to vote on Mr. McCart's request for tabling and determined a simple majority was necessary for passage.  A roll call vote was taken with the following results:  Yeas: Brody, DeGrendele, Green, Newmark and Rosenstrauch.  There were no nays.  The request to table passed.  Mr. Brody concluded the meeting by saying to Mr. McCart that it is the Board's desire that he relate to the homeowners that even if this request comes back with all the data requested tonight, he is not sure they would approve it.  The Board Members all appeared to be nodding in agreement.   

At 8:30 p.m. the meeting was adjourned.   

Respectfully submitted,

Michele McMahon

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