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45 Comments

  1. 1

    Toff

    That makes for an uncomfortable conversation over the fence with the neighbors!

  2. 2

    Tomato-Eating Chipmunk

    Schadenfreude

  3. 3

    Thomas Porter

    This is a welcome and resounding affirmation from the ZBA that a builder cannot “just get a variance” for something they have built in violation of the ordinances (setbacks in this case). I honestly believe the deceit was intentional by the builder.

    Reciprocally I am very disappointed that the Community Development staff could find any justification for recommending approval, that flies in the face of their providing unbiased reports as required of them. How can they possibly administer larger developments?

  4. 4

    Bob

    25 feet x 10 in. is NOT 250 sq. ft. It’s actually less than 25 sq. ft.

  5. 5

    Pauline

    Cubed. Not linear Bob.

  6. 6

    Thomas Porter

    Not at all, applicant is non-resident speculative builder. Sole motivation was profit.

  7. 7

    Easy Rider

    It’s not unusual for site plans developed in the early process (building permit) to be slightly different from the final. The builder has the ultimate responsibility to ensure the permit is in order, but I believe the permit department recognizing some fault. Inches are important in Brookhaven, but this isn’t a reasonable response.

  8. 8

    Dean

    Please explain why you would use cubed on a site plan.

  9. 9

    Dean

    Oh, never mind, you are using Brookhaven math.

  10. 10

    Barbara

    Thomas,

    I am not for this variance but what profit have to do with anything? You didn’t work for profit during your career? Just because someone builds houses instead of car parts or furniture doesn’t mean they are evil and don’t deserve to make a living for their family.

  11. 11

    Adam

    So the bump out is approved as long as it’s cantilevered? If what the builder states is true, this seems fixable. If the bump out is not approved at all then this will get interesting.

  12. 12

    Ellen

    Who cares what the squared or cubed footage is? This property was built out of conformance with its permit. This situation is exactly what zoning laws are meant to prevent. I would do exactly the same if this property abutted mine.

  13. 13

    Thomas Porter

    Point being… it wasn’t for their daughter’s bedroom, new family room, etc. Profit is good.

  14. 14

    Riley OConnor

    Okay.

    7.3′ – 6.6′ = .7′ (exceeded setback)
    25′ (length of the unapproved wall) x .7′ m(exceeded setback) = 17.5 square feet

    Any way you calculate it, the issue is still the same. For a long time, there has been an operational philosophy by certain builders that “gaining forgiveness is easier than gaining permission”. That attitude is particularly irritating for those who actually try to comply with the zoning ordinances.

  15. 15

    HueyMahl

    Give me a break. This is exactly the kind of BS form over substance punitive ruling that the builder should appeal. I’m sorry, no one is harmed here but the builder. Slippery slope arguments are not applicable – this is a hardship request, pure and simple. It is ok to show a little judgment and discretion.

    I’m all for enforcing zoning codes, but you have to have a little common sense too.

  16. 16

    Blinded Authority

    City of Brookhaven Community Development assigned with Transit Oriented Development compliance of a $120M project…with as many variance request…

    Who is Gene Dodd?

  17. 17

    GiveMeaBreak

    If this is a hardship, it’s self inflicted. The hardship is for the neighbor. How do they feel about this issue. Did they testify in support of the variance? Do they mind having the new neighbors that much closer?

  18. 18

    Susan

    You do realize you are in Brookhaven, dont you? Welcome to Brookhaven, the city in search of a little common sense.

  19. 19

    Susan

    A character in your new e-book?

  20. 20

    Thomas Porter

    Nope. It isn’t a cantilever (as stated) and it vastly exceeds what a “projection” is intended to be (bay window, cornice, chimney etc). You don’t see it, but the bump-out actually sticks out 1′-2″ at the base + another 2′-8″ at the roofline = 3′-10″ into the sideyard setback. At the best condition at that whole wall they still intruded into the sideyard by .2′. Plus, the site plan is fudged, every other condition is accurate except they omitted this bump-out! Builder “didn’t notice” for 7-8 months while building? Good call by ZBA.

  21. 21

    Stephanie elliott

    Barbara- Thomas is helping our neighborhood. We are grateful that he has helped preserve property values and privacy. We are certainly grateful!

  22. 22

    Jim

    The neighbors presented and requested denial of the variance request. Watch the video and read the agenda packet documents to understand the entire story. Good call by the ZBA. Builders and the city need to monitor the construction sites better in the future. This isn’t the first time this kind of stuff has happened.
    I was curious about the charts also and it did seem to reference that a precedence was being created in an attempt to justify a hardship.
    I’m glad Mr. Beardsley addressed it.

  23. 23

    Ellen

    The builder infringed upon the adjacent property owner’s. This is why we have a variance process that allows all sides to be heard. It is on the builder not to make “mistakes” like this. Our city government is elected by residents to protect their interests. The vast majority of voters are not speculative builders who are happy to run roughshod over the property rights of surrounding property owners.

  24. 24

    Adam

    Did not say that it was cantilevered, the builder stated that it should have been but wasn’t. That’s an easier fix than the entire structure having the entire structure built incorrectly. Just wondering if what the builder states is true or if the entire thing is a “mistake”. Either way, I imagine that the house will remain as built. With or without a lawsuit or fine.

  25. 25

    Tracy

    I’m the mathematician that abuts this property and we did oppose. While one can debate the amount of damage caused by the violation there certainly is damage to our property and the neighborhood. A 4400 square foot home replaced a 1200 square foot home, it doesn’t fit the lot by code or appearance. Granting a variance after the fact doesn’t seem like a practice that should be adopted. Having said that people have the right to show up at the variance hearings and voice their opinions. Being a corner lot and having a home built next to you is a challenging experience that I don’t wish upon anyone, builders can make it easier on neighbor’s by being good stewards…or not.

  26. 26

    GiveMeaBreak

    It appears the ZBA upheld it’s end of the bargain. Abiding by the rule of law, and protecting adjacent property owners. Whether this was a mistake by the builder, or a conscience decision is neither here nor there. The ZBA told the builder to make it right. Good job !!

  27. 27

    Barbara

    Wow., please read the article. They didn’t infringe on anything, they severely missed the setback. Please look up what that means and correct your statement. No other owners proerty was physically built on or touched in anyway. This is everything wrong with Brookhaven, gross exaggeration.

    “the exterior brick water table for the new dwelling was proposed to be setback 7.3 feet from the property line. During final site plan review, the City discovered the home is set only 6.6 feet back”

  28. 28

    Eddie E.

    Nor does being a builder give them an automatic authority to violate the clearly stated rules.

  29. 29

    Eddie E.

    The only way to end the notion of “forgiveness” is liberal use of the word NO.

  30. 30

    Dean

    I wonder if the city was correct with their measurement. Did they have a surveyor locate the property line before they determined the setback error?

  31. 31

    JoeP

    “. Because variance cases are on a case by case basis and are not intended to set precedent, …”
    May not be intended, but they have set precedence!

  32. 32

    JoeP

    Has this builder done this before?

  33. 33

    JoeP

    What hardship has the neighbor had? Does this affect the view for the neighbor? Cause a drainage issue? more noise?They can’t sleep at night? What exactly is the harm to the neighbor? Maybe I can send a few of my neighbor’s kids over to scream and yell outside to really annoy them! That is annoying!

  34. 34

    bldvl89

    Seems like a lot of people are criticizing this decision because the violation – and there is no denying that it was a violation – “only” involved a 10 inch infringement x 25 feet. But the 6.6 acre block where this development is located is the same one where Terwilliger was trying to put up their five story apartment building, and where something will eventually get built.

    If the ZBA were to allow a 10 inch x 25 feet infringement on this block now, there would be nothing to stop the next guy coming in behind Terwilliger from accidently-on-purpose making the same 10 inch “mistake” along the row of other Canoochee homes adjoining the development, and then applying for a variance. Only the next time, we’d be talking about a mistake running 270 feet (the length of the structure T-P originally proposed) along a block that’s only 585 feet long east to west.

    My hope is that the ZBA’s decision will force future developers on the block to take notice that they actually have to follow the law, stick to the plan they give to the City to approve, and to let developers know that they cannot expect the City or the ZBA to bail them out from their own mistakes or action, especially when they are taken to the detriment of adjoining homeowners.

    Otherwise, I thought the ZBA did a terrific job of listening to the adjoining neighbors, and that they made a well-reasoned decision that focused exactly on what it was supposed to focus on: the written criteria for granting a variance that the developer completely ignored.

  35. 35

    TLB

    JoeP…..I am a homeowner with a builder who has ruined our summer. We have called numerous times to report the never ending noise from after hours construction, debris flying etc. Frankly, after this post, I am going to see if my new neighbors builder has crossed the line.

    In order to install drain lines for the gutters, they ripped thru five tree root systems, the only buffer we have between the homes. The trees are on our property. I caught them drenching along our property line and the drain line for run off was dug straight to our property line and water would be dumped on our property. I did ask what they were doing as far as the drain line up against our fence….the response was “I am doing what my boss told me to do”. Wrong answer. I made my call and stood and watched. Finally, after numerous calls for violation of city ordiance, this did result in a call to the builder and they had to change the direction of their drainlines. One lawsuit we don’t have to waste our personal time on. Forget the expense and irrigation.

    What would happen if I had not caught them? Should we have to pay to sue the developer and our neighbors. I don’t want to sue people I plan on living beside for years in the future. Why do I have to micro-manage a builder putting up a million dollar home. The answer is , I shouldn’t.

    Advice to anyone with the same problem, watch the sub-contractors and call city ordinance if you think they are in violation.

    JoeP…..looking forward to the day someone throws up a house which blocks all your afternoon soon, cost you in landscaping because we don’t have a sunny backyard, it just changed to a shady backyard with low light requirements for plants.

    Add it up, it has cost us time, money and frustration dealing with the system. It is time the City starts citing violators. The excuse that the people doing the work are not the boss, is not acceptable. Contractors/subcontractors….they should be cited if they are doing work they are not allowed to do. More builders need to be shutdown for 30 days. Let it happen and word will get around and other developers will stop playing “ask forgiveness, not permission” game.

    Top it off, they park all over the place and we’ve missed too many trash pickups because they totally take over our street. I am not putting my trash container in my driveway. I just had to call again this morning because once again, they parked up against our container and no pick-up for us.

    Yes, you must be living in a secluded, untouched area. It won’t last long.

    Hardship…….this is just a sampling of the hardship. How about you send over $7500 to replace our sun plants with shade plants and then tell me about a hardship?
    more tree roots were not ripped up or water dumped on our property. That is on the tip of the iceberg.

  36. 36

    HueyMahl

    Personally, I think it is a nice looking home and a big upgrade to the neighborhood. You should hope more run down 1200 sq ft homes are replaced.

  37. 37

    HueyMahl

    Again, this is not a slippery slope case. It is a unique, one-off event. The builder made a mistake. No one is harmed except the builder. A clear case for a hardship exemption made worse by a crappy decision and ungenerous neighbors.

    If there was ANY evidence that this was done on purpose, I would agree with those on here wanting to punish this “evil” developer (who is only in it for “profit” god forbid). But there is no such evidence. Just evidence that the neighbors are jerks.

  38. 38

    bldvl89

    HM – I am relieved that it was the ZBA and not you that was deciding this case. The criteria for granting a variance in no way rests upon whether “there was any evidence that [the builder’s own mistake] was done on purpose.”

    If that were the standard, you’d never be able to get a variance denied. “Punishment” is a subjective term which arbitrarily assumes that making a builder fix its own mistake is “punishment” rather than what it really is – an order to take remedial action to bring the bring the builder’s product in conformity with the plan it submitted to get city approval to build in the first place. You also arbitrarily assume that permanently shoving a 25′ long x 20′ high area of wall ten inches closer to a neighbor’s home makes a neighbor a jerk for objecting to it.

    The ZBA followed their own published rules in this case. 27-1665 specifies each of the five criteria that must be satisfied for granting a variance, and the very first one is literally whether there are any special circumstances “that were NOT created by the applicant” related to the land itself that would otherwise deprive the applicant of the same uses available to other owners.

    The special circumstance driving the filing of a variance in this case – “the mistake” if you want to be that charitable – was created ENTIRELY by the applicant/developer, and no one else. 27-1665 was written to protect adjoining landowners from nonconforming development; it was not written to protect builders from the consequences of their own self-inflicted mistakes in making their developments nonconforming.

    “Profit” or or who is “good” or who is “evil” had nothing to do with making the right decision in this case. Builders already enjoy a disproportionate share of privilege and approval in Brookhaven, without having to strain or distort some convoluted reading of 27-1665 to also cover them for their own screw-ups.

  39. 39

    Get the facts, man

    Huey, Huey, Huey, once again speaking of what you know NOTHING about. Once, just once it would be nice if you commented based on knowledge and not a knee jerk reaction to just make a smart a** remark and call people names.

  40. 40

    Resident

    Huey opines from the Dias.

  41. 41

    Ellen

    You are so naive

  42. 42

    MissC

    Lmaooo. You know there are real problems in the world, right?

  43. 43

    Eddie E.

    Why?
    Is there some requirement that anyone seeking a home must purchase a structure in excess of 3,500 sq.ft. whether they need it or not?

  44. 44

    Ellen

    Your lack of empathy is astounding

  45. 45

    Eddie E.

    “ungenerous neighbors”?
    Are the neighbors expected to ignore code violations to ensure the builders receive that to which they are “entitled”?

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