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Jane

The City Approved a Permit that Violates Our Zoning

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In July my neighbor (a formerSenator) started building a deck and would not tell me what his plans were. I called the city and they said he had a permit based on our city definition of a patio. (A patio should not be higher than 30 " and should not extend out more than 12 feet and does not require a permit.) I asked if I could see the plans and I was told they were copyrighted but he described the size of the deck floor but not the height. I questioned him about this and said that it would take up the whole yard if that was the actual size of the "deck". He said that it kind of looked like it took up the entire yard and I asked if there were no setbacks that needed to be adhered to. He said "No" - I was surprise because we live in townhomes and the yards are pretty small. I continued to email as I learned more about the R2PD zone in which we live and asked for confirmation that the deck complied with zoning but I did not become aware of the height of the "patio" until 5 days later. I immediately emailed the city and set up an appointment to speak to the Assistant Community Development Director. The following day my husband and I went down to the offices and were shown the deck's horizontal size on the computer. We were also shown the permit. The "patio" had been issued a permit based on R3 zoning which is more restrictive than R2PD as R3 can not have any decks or patios. There was no additional information on the building permit - the just said "we have a 5x8 deck and want to make it bigger". The plan of the floor of the deck (we were not shown the elevations) did not show the property lines or any buildings apart from the townhome and part of the detached garage which the pan showed to be 10 feet deep. We questioned the city official and he said he couldn't explain the issuance of the permit because the city had lost the R2PD zoning but would ask the city attorney. I asked him how a permit could be issued with no zoning information and he declined to answer.

 

I emailed the city official and registered a zoning violation and asked for the city to correct the multiple errors. He responded saying the city attorney upheld the permit but that I could appeal it. He did not mention the appeal window but it was determined by the State Ombudsman (after many weeks of back and forth) when I filed for an advisory opinion that my appeal was timely. Two days later the city responded with an affidavit from the original person I spoke to at the city saying he "couldn't recall" saying that the plans were copyrighted and in that case he would have told me to make a GRAMA request. Because the plans were copyrighted they were not included in the GRAMA request but I found that out on my own - not because he said to do anything. Anyhow, a "dispute of the facts" limits the ombudsman so he can't issue an opinion and I am now waiting to go to the Board of Adjustments appeal on October 17th, 2019.

 

The city have fought hard to prove I wasn't timely in my appeal - I suspect because they know they violated zoning for the enormous deck (see attached picture) which is now finished. The neighbor deviated from the plan (he changed where the stairs were) so he needs an amended plan before he can get a certificate of completion. The more I protested the faster he built. 

 

I am preparing for the Board of Adjustment's appeal but I know the staff report will probably miss out all their errors. I want to pursue this as my home is now devalued and I have to look at a crazy sized deck every time I go outside. I have requested the GRAMA record of any and all communication that refers to the permitting of the deck and the zoning. 

 

I would appreciate any help that could be offered.

 

 

 

construction1 .png

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Here's the cold hard facts of life. Your city bureaucrats will not raise a finger to stop your neighbor from building his deck and you are very naïve to think that going through some bureaucratic process is going to change anything.

 

You are going to have to sue your neighbor and seek an injunction against (or removal of) the project if it is, indeed a violation that the bureaucrats don't want to acknowledge.

 

 

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