May was a busy month for the Village's Zoning Commission, with the board reviewing more than a dozen requests for five properties. The requests were spread over two meetings, one on May 4, the second on May 18.
At the May 4 meeting the commission approved a variance request for a "privacy screen" for a property at 3873 Sulphur Spring Road. The homeowner, Rick Brunner, first sought a variance in December 2015 for a section of fencing six feet tall and 20 feet long. It was installed during the summer of 2015, as a replacement for a hemlock hedge that had served as a privacy barrier between Brunner's property and the adjacent home. After a pair of successive harsh winters, the hedge deteriorated, and was removed.
A landscaper told Brunner between the heavy shade in that portion of his yard and heavy deer activity, the conditions were not conducive for a replacement hedge, so the privacy fence was installed.
Brunner's neighbors did not object to the fence, but a walker noticed it from the street and called it to the attention of the Village.
The Village zoning code prohibits fences more than four feet tall. Brunner argued the barrier is not a fence, as it does not limit access to his property, rather it merely screens his back patio from the neighbor's yard. At the time the Zoning Commission was discussing a variety of changes to the ordinances governing fences, so the matter was tabled. It was put back on the agenda in May.
"I'd appeal to the notion it is a decorative barrier," Brunner said.
Commission member Sam Zyndorf said the specific circumstances made him look upon the request favorably.
"Even though I don't want this to become the norm, because of the depth of (Brunner's) yard, I do not object to this," Zyndorf said. "If this were in Plat III, I would object."
The matter passed 3-0, with Zyndorf, commission member Paul Bishop, and councilwoman Kate O'Connell voting for the measure. Mayor Kevin Gilmore abstained, and commission member Zac Isaac was absent.
Also on May 4, the commission reviewed a trio of variance requests for a proposed new home to be built on the vacant lot at 11 Stableside.
The property owner, Gi Yuan Chow, asked for a height variance, lot coverage variance, and a garage placement variance. The zoning code that applies to Stableside limits building height to 30 feet, and the proposed home would be 31.5 feet tall. The code also limits the amount on the lot that can be covered by a home to 22 percent, or 2,378 square feet. The propose home would cover 2,540 square feet, or 23.5 percent.
Code prohibits garages in the front of houses in that neighborhood, and the proposed design calls for a garage in the front of the house. Four homes that were built on Stableside prior to the current zoning code have garages in front.
Craig Hagenbuch, a trustee with the Stables at Hasty Farms Homeowner Association, voiced concerns that crews had cleared all of the trees from the lot without the Association's approval, as required in the Association's guidelines. Hagenbuch also noted Chow's initial design called for the use of vinyl siding, despite a prohibition against the material in the guidelines.
Hagenbuch said the association would support the variance requests as Chow had agreed to work with the association regarding building materials and colors, and had agreed to develop a landscaping plan. The commission approved the variances 4-0.
All five members of the Zoning Commission were present at the May 18 meeting. Among the items on the agenda that evening was a trio of requests pertaining to a proposed new home at 4110 Dunkirk Road. Todd Kime, of Kime Design, addressed the commission on behalf of the property owners, Beverly and Gary McBride. The McBrides are planning to demolish the existing home to build a new one.
"We have a neat opportunity here," Kime told the commission. "They bought a house that has been neglected and run down."
One home owner, who lives across the street from the property, voiced his support for the variances, telling the commission: "We are so grateful the McBrides have stepped up to the plate to do this, to get rid of this eyesore."
The variances requested were for lot coverage, corner side yard, and rear side yard. In that zoning district the code limits the amount of the lot that can be covered by a home to 20 percent, or 2,460 square feet. The proposed home would cover 2,865 square feet, or 23 percent.
The code also mandates a rear yard that is a minimum of 25 feet from the rear property line, and side yard that is a minimum of 30 feet from street side of the property. Because of the wedge-shaped size of the lot, a small corner of the building would infringe four feet into the rear yard. As for the side yard variance, a portion of the home, a 12 foot wide sewing room, juts six feet into the side yard. Otherwise the footprint of the home is in compliance with the zoning code.
O'Connell, in reviewing the requests, said, "This is well thought out. Even though the lot coverage is a bit over, the house and scale fit in. I am pleased the neighbors support it too."
The commission voted 5-0 in favor of all three variances.
Jenny Seifried was in attendance to discuss the variances she and her husband Todd were seeking for a home they would like to build at 2636 Underhill Road. Like the McBrides, the Seifrieds are planning to remove the existing house to build a new home.
The couple was seeking four variances: maximum height, minimum side yard, aggregate side yard, and garage location. In their zoning district garages cannot be in front of the home. The code also requires a minimum of a combined 49 feet for side yards, and that a side yard may not be smaller than 22 feet wide.
The plans for the new home would result in a combined 43 feet for side yards, and would result in one side yard that would be only 16 feet wide. The maximum height of a home in the district is 35 feet, and the proposed home would be 36 feet tall.
In the face of multiple questions from the Zoning Commission about how the home would be positioned on the lot, especially in relation to existing homes on either side, Seifried requested the commission table any action on the variance requests. Seifried is going to have the contractor stake out the perimeter of the proposed home so commission members can visit the site before making a decision.
Also at the May 18 meeting, the Zoning Commission heard a request from Mindy Kairis, of 2278 Evergreen. Kairis was seeking four variances: aggregate side yard minimums, minimum side yard width, maximum lot coverage, and garage door placement. The variances are needed to allow crews to proceed with a planned addition to the Kairis home.
In her zoning district, the minimum side yard aggregate is 42 feet, minimum side yard is 17 feet wide, maximum lot coverage allowed is 3,315 square feet, or 15 percent, and garages must be either a side or rear load.
According to Village Administrator Marc Thompson, the lot, which is adjacent to the Village-owned parklands on Evergreen, is already non-conforming, with the south side yard adjacent to the parklands being only five feet wide.
The proposed addition calls for a front facing garage and a side yard to the north side yard measuring only 12 feet wide. The neighbor to the north voiced concerns with the proximity of the addition. Commission members suggested reducing the width of the garage from 24 feet to 20 feet, which would reduce the side yard variance request from five feet to less than a foot.
Kairis decided to withdraw the variance request to give her contractor time to revise the plans for the addition.