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Board of Zoning Appeals grants partial variance

Paul and Susan Flint have 30 days to appeal the Board of Zoning Appeals decision.

The Flints applied for a variance that would allow them to over-ride the setback rules allowing for the construction of a 10 x 10 foot deck and a 10 x 14 foot gazebo in the rear of their property located at 28 Lincoln Ave.

The board granted the recommendations of the building and zoning staff, which would allow for construction only on an existing concrete slab but Mr. Flint was not happy and said, “That is not as large as the survey we submitted and the plan proposed. I’m not sure that a deck of that size would be practical because it is so small.”

The property in question has an existing slab that measures 92 square feet and is covered with gravel. The couple want

to extend the new structures over the existing pad leaving only six inches set back on the back of their property and only four and a half feet from the house.

Article XVII, Section 17-2 allows the board to grant a variance under three conditions; strict application of the zoning ordinance must produce an undue hardship, such hardship must be unique to the property owner and granting the variance must not be a substantial detriment to adjacent property owners.

BZA Chairman Helga Gallahan said, “When we talk about undue hardship, I don’t see this as being an undue hardship, because there is a very beneficial use to the property. We have to look at the property as a whole, we can’t just look at part of the property. And because you have a lovely house on the property you do have very good use of the property. So this does not really cause you any undue hardship.”

Gallahan also told the applicant that although the concrete pad is the only unique aspect of the property other property owners have the same setback rules.

“The other thing that I don’t agree with that staff wrote: Staff feels that all beneficial use of the property has been eliminated and that to me is just not true. You do have a lovely house,” Gallahan continued.

Based on these factors, Gallahan concluded, “I see no problem with attaching the conditions that the staff has listed. In as much as having your deck on the existing concrete pad, that way you would not be enlarging a non-conforming property.”

Mr. Flint disagreed with Gallahan’s reasoning but could not compel the other two members present to vote in his favor. The three board members voted unanimously to grant the variance with staff’s conditions.

If the Flints decide to go ahead with their project, aside from limiting new construction to the 92 square foot concrete pad, the Flints must also implement their proposed storm-water BMP (best management practices) plan agreement for rain barrels, construct a fire wall either on the house or new structure where the two meet, and record the variance and its conditions in the county clerks office.   

In addition, an existing shed, which now sits in the town right-of-way, must be moved onto the property.

First of the year business
The Board of Zoning Appeals consists of five members who meet maybe twice a year when applicants appeal the decisions of the building and zoning staff.

Since this is the first meeting of the year, housekeeping duties such as approving the minutes of the last meeting and selecting a chairperson and vice-chairperson were completed for the board as well as for the Board of Building Code Appeals.

Existing members are Rocky Dennson, Helga Gallahan, and Frank Lincoln Jr., who were present at last Tuesday’s meeting, as well as Frank Mansfield and Susan Windland who were absent.

Gallahan was voted chairperson and Lincoln was voted vice-chairperson of both boards.

Linda Farneth

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