4 June 2014 | Approved: 2 July 2014
Chairman Challstrom called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m. In attendance were commissioners Brenda Gumula, John McClelland, Peter Nagrod, Freda Temple and Steve Werts. Also in attendance were Mayor Joli McCathran, Councilor Georgette Cole, HPC member Wendy Harris, and residents Joe Clark, Audrey Maskery, Bud O’Connor, Jane Seegal and Jim Snyder. Attorney Charles Chester was in attendance representing resident Jim Snyder (201 Maple Road).
Approval of Agenda
Brenda Gumula moved, Peter Nagrod seconded, that the agenda be approved. Chairman Challstrom added three (3) items. Approved: 5-0.
Approval of the Minutes
Peter Nagrod moved, Steve Werts seconded, that the Planning Commission minutes for May 7, 2014 be approved. Approved: 4-0; McClelland abstained.
There were no public appearances.
Building Permit Applications
- 409 5th Ave. – Fence: Brenda Gumula reported that the resident would like to replace some very old fencing and a gate. The fence will be 100% on the resident’s property. All property corners have been located. Steve Werts moved, Peter Nagrod seconded, that the building permit for a replacement fence at 409 5th Avenue be approved. Vote: 5-0.
- 201 Maple Road – Extend and Enclose Carport: Attorney Charles Chester brought forth the following as the basis for his argument as to why Jim Snyder is entitled to enlarge and enclose his existing carport;
- The action of original construction was previously permitted.
- Previous approval would constitute a waiver of the rules.
- Town’s position of a non-conforming use meant a waiver had to have been granted from the beginning.
- No additional non-conformity is being added as prohibited in Article VII, Sections 5.31 & 5.32.
- Because the enlargement is not on the road side he is not encroaching on any road right-of-way.
- The brick walkway between the existing carport and the main house constitutes a connection which is required by ordinance.
- This home has the main door on the side of the house not facing a walkway or a road making it unique to the historical precedent.
- It is a reasonable and practical request.
Jim Snyder addressed the Commission stating that 12 of the 18 homes on Maple have garages and all are larger than what he proposed. In addition, half of the garages are closer to the road than his. He asked the Commission to remove the ordinance “mumbo-jumbo” and figure out what is reasonable from the citizen’s point of view. Charlie Challstrom thanked Mr. Snyder for his input and stated there is a clear understanding about the front yard and address of this property. He also stated the Town ordinances are clear in defining a front yard. Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson stated the frontage question has been decided by both the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals. State law dictates once a determination has been made and no additional information is brought forward, that decision cannot be overturned. Doing so would be considered arbitrary and capricious. Because nothing new has been presented, the original decision must stand. Mr. Chester stated although the Town may consider it so, no res judicata has been determined by a judge. Ms. Ferguson re-stated the decision cannot change. There was a lengthy discussion about the perceived erroneous decision by the Planning Commission, the timing for arguing a BZA decision (30 days after the hearing), the BZA and its purpose, the interpretation that the brick walk constituted a legal connection to the main structure, Sections 5.31 & 5.32A of the Town Code, comparable properties in Town, Town Code vs. practicality, the original facts of the original decision, changing the ordinance to allow for enlargement of a non-compliance and a proposed change to the original plans. Ms. Ferguson stated no decision about a new project would be made tonight and asked if they were requesting a decision about the brick walk connection and how it is defined. Mr. Chester went on to say there was no further encroachment because of the brick walkway already exists. Ms. Ferguson re-stated this request has been fully discussed, heard by the BZA who upheld the Commission’s decision and the decision cannot be overturned. Chairman Challstrom stated the Commission is open to reviewing other options and ideas for the proposed enclosure of the carport. He also read the requirements for attaching two (2) separate structures by means of a breezeway. It was asked if they wished to withdraw the application. Mr. Snyder and Mr. Chester left the room to discuss. They returned asking if the application could be withdrawn and a decision deferred, thus, allowing Mr. Snyder a little more time. Ms. Ferguson stated the application could be withdrawn and an amended application presented in its place. Mr. Chester asked if the discussion and vote could be tabled while Mr. Snyder decides his next course of action. There was a discussion about what it would mean to table this (To what end?), alternate plans and appeals. Ms. Ferguson suggested the Commission could allow this to be tabled to a time certain.
John McClelland moved, Steve Werts seconded, that this item be tabled until the July 2nd meeting.
Building Permit Applications
- 402 Grove Avenue: Joe Clark presented a picture of “cosmetic roof” that he would like to put on his home to break up the blank walls facing Acorn Lane. The proposed roof is more of a cantilevered architectural feature. Charlie Challstrom suggested Joe have a brief conversation with the HPC about this addition. The Commission agreed that no permit was necessary for this.
- Joe Clark also came to discuss building a pergola in his yard and asked about permit regulations for that structure. Charlie Challstrom directed Joe to Article IV and the definition of a pergola. Joe explained that he would like it to be eight (8) feet tall. A discussion ensued. Joe was advised to apply for a simple Town building permit for this project.
Public Ways and Property Permits
- PEPCO: Chairman Challstrom reported that PEPCO has requested a PWPP for work to be done in connection with the Deer Park Bridge project. A few transformers and gang switches will be moved and three (3) poles along Brown Street will be replaced. The Commission reviewed PEPCO’s maps and plans. Brenda Gumula moved, John McClelland seconded, approval of the Public Ways and Property Permit application for this project. Vote: 5-0.
- Discussion on Permits for Parking: Chairman Challstrom gave the background for the recent construction of a gravel parking area mostly on Town property on the southern border at 201 Washington Grove Lane. He stated when he and the Mayor met with the residents they explained they needed additional parking and were trying to resolve drainage/water issues. Charlie also referred to a similar project at 123 W.G. Lane along with a State law that required the Commission’s approval of improvements on Town land. He also quoted the 2009 Master Plan Parking Policy and then made reference to the new Public Ways & Property Permit exemption of driveways. A discussion about equal enforcement, driveway permits, better education to prevent such things, construction of parking pads on Town property, boundary surveys, property markers and grandfathering what currently exists. The Commission will think about the process, rules, equity and read the PWPP again in order to understand the ramifications of removal the sentence exempting driveways.
- Building Standards Compliance Checklist: Brenda Gumula reported that it is still taking about one (1) hour per home to complete the compliance checklist. She, Georgette Cole and Freda Temple will continue to work on the eight (8) homes listed in Ordinance 2014-03.
Draft Ordinance to Authorize Permanent Easements for Main Buildings Initially Constructed in Part on Land Owned by the Town: Chairman Challstrom distributed Ordinance 2014-03 as introduced by the Town Council on May 19, 2014. He also explained the reason for the addition of “a unique line type” as suggested by Surveyor Joe Snider. A discussion produced the following concerns;
- The language in #2 does not include any mention of the Historic Preservation Commission
- Fuzzy language where emergencies are concerned
- No language about legal costs or process included
- All is tied to a building permit for reconstruction or replacement
- Adding language reflecting easement only or building permit with an easement
There was another discussion about bringing these concerns to the public hearing on June 9th and the process in general.
John McClelland reported that the May 19th meeting of the Town Council included two (2) public hearings. The meeting also included the swearing-in of officials and assigning areas of responsibility to the Council.
Charlie Challstrom gave an update on the Deer Park Bridge project. He directed the Commission to the recent explanation published in the June Town Bulletin. He also reported that the meeting with CSX last week was good and included a discussion about the bad drainage caused by the partially blocked CSX drain.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:52 p.m.