Virginia Highland Civic Association Monthly Meeting
7:00 PM; Monday, December 10, 2012
Ponce de Leon Library
CALL TO ORDER
Unusual circumstances resulted in the customary library meeting room being unexpectedly inaccessible at the last moment. No suitable alternative space being available, the Board determined that it would be prudent to simply hear those planning matters that were most pressing and to defer all other agenda items.
Ms. Carlisle therefore called the meeting to order at 7 PM outside the meeting room.
The following Board members were present: John Becker, Peggy Berg, Lola Carlisle, Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Genny Ferrero, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Jennifer Keenan, Pamela Papner, and David Wolfson. Jack White was not far away, but he was not present.
The following planning items were addressed:
LRB-413: Applicant Nadir Noormohammed Pirana presented his application for a new license (beer and wine only) for ‘Welcome 8 Foodmart’ at 730 Barnett Street NE, Unit C. The applicant reported that he has successfully maintained retail establishments at other locations for over ten (10) years, has installed safety features at the site, has an alcohol serving training program in place, and has no record of alcohol violations in the past ten (10) years. Based on this information, the Planning Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval at its meeting on December 5, 2012. In response to a question from the Board, Mr. Pirana confirmed that single-size portions of alcohol would not be sold at the site. The Board voted unanimously to support the application.
V-12-172; 1029 Bellevue Drive NE
Applicant Roderick Cloud requests a varied to reduce the (west) side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 4’ to construct a new garage behind a new house currently permitted and already under construction at the location. The Planning Committee made a series of site visits on this matter; the original application was sited near the rear setback, was over 50% impervious and requested a variance therefrom, was 20’ high, and had a 2nd story with a window overlooking the neighbors to the rear. After hearing the Planning Committee was highly likely to oppose such a plan in its entirety, the applicant withdrew those requests and presented a plan that moved the garage forward and reduced its footprint (ending the >50% impervious content), removed the window, reduced the overall height to 16’, included 4 trees on the rear of the garage for absorption of water and screening, and provided 440 gallons of onsite stormwater retention in the form of rain barrels.
The Committee approved these aspects of the plan at its meeting on 11-7-12, at which point the neighbors to the rear indicated that their privacy and runoff objections had been addressed.
That notwithstanding, VHCA member John Jugovic (address) reiterated his belief that this house was too big, that such McMansions should not be allowed, and that they were ruing the neighborhood. Committee members noted yet again that they too had lots of varied of personal opinions about a number of aesthetic issues and trends in the neighborhood but knew very well that the BZA based its own decisions on code-based factors. Eventually Mr. Jugovic reasserted his belief that >50% of the conditioned space in the basement is above grade now and would be at completion and should therefore be included as floor area in the FAR computation. If Mr. Jugovic is accurate, the FAR would be over the allowable limit and would therefore not be legal and ineligible to receive a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
VHCA Planning Committee members Mark Arnold and Chip Bullock (both registered architects with decades of experience and practice) independently visited the site as it stands under construction and disagreed with Mr. Jugovic’s assessment. The Board and the applicant had agreed to a 1-month deferral at the November BoD specifically to give Mr. Jugovic time to request an inspection by the city, notwithstanding that such matters are not typically ruled on by the Bureau of Buildings until a CO is requested after construction is substantially complete.
Mr. Jugovic appeared at the Planning Committee meeting on December 5th and said he had not been able to get the city to respond to his phone calls. Asked if he had made the request in writing at any point to any specific individual, he said he had not. Asked if he would like Planning Committee assistance, he declined and said he would continue to pursue this on his own.
Committee members pointed out repeatedly that the calculation of FAR is a code requirement issue independent of the variance request before it and therefore outside the purview of this variance, the Bureau of Zoning Adjustment, and the NPU. Mr. White pointed out that a 1-month deferral had already been granted without even a formal request in writing being submitted and asked again why Mr. Jugovic had made only anecdotal and undocumented attempts. The Planning Committee meeting ended with the committee still in support of the revised variance application.
These issues were discussed several more times in the Board meeting, after Mr. Jugovic insisted that a second deferral was appropriate. After several more iterations of the discussion, Ms. Carlisle made and Ms. Ferrero seconded a motion to approve the variance request conditioned the revised site plan date-stamped 11/08/12 that included the features noted above and added the standard garage conditions (16’ height, 60A electrical service, and hose bib only) and provision of all letters of notification. Ms. Papner, Ms. Ferrero, Ms. Keenan, Mr. Cruz-Tucker, Ms. Forschler Horn, Ms. Carlisle, and Mr. Becker all voted in favor. Mr. Wolfson abstained.
V-12-179; 1171 Rosedale Drive NE. Applicant and owner David Woodbury seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the east side yard setback from 7 ft (required) to 4 ft and rear yard setback from 15’ (required) to 10’ and to reduce the lot coverage to 52.39% from its previous 50%. After several site visits and a one-month deferral, a revised plan was submitted that increased the side setback an additional foot, featured276 gallons of stormwater retention on site, a grassed median strip on the front half of the driveway that drains north toward Rosedale, additional planting at the rear of the garage, and a raised curb to prevent stormwater from exiting the property from the driveway to the rear (south). Mr. Woodbury received unanimous recommendation for approval from the VHCA Planning Committee, conditioned upon site plans (with those features) stamped and dated December 6, 2012 , with standard garage conditions (16’ high, 60A, hose bib only), and provision of all letters of notification.
Ms. Carlisle therefore moved and Ms. Forschler Horn seconded a motion to approve per the Planning committee conditions. The Board agreed unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:15 PM and most people went home. Mr. White did not.