The current Board of Adjustment does a good job of trying to see things from the perspective of the property owner and helping them improve their property despite the myriad of city regulations put in place over the years.

It is rare for the board not to grant a homeowner a request for a variance, but that happened at the Board of Adjustment meeting on Monday, Aug. 26 in the Council Chamber.

The request was to allow a 3-foot encroachment into a 10-foot side setback from Stephen and Paula James at 1104 Meade Dr.

It’s the kind of variance the Board of Adjustment regularly grants if there is no objection. But in the case, Paula James said that they built the addition in 1992, and the only reason it was coming up now was because of a dispute with a neighbor over a new driveway. Paula James said that her husband, who is a contractor, built the addition without a building permit.

Chairman of the Board of Adjustment Chuck Truby asked if it made a difference that the portion that encroached cantilevered out from the wall, and current Planning Manager Mike Kirkman said it did not.

Kirkman was also asked if the setback requirement was different in 1992 and he said it was not.

Truby said, “I want to grant the variance, I just don’t know how to write the motion.”

Truby noted that one of the required findings has to be that it was not the actions of the property owner that caused the violation, and because they built it and didn’t get a permit, he didn’t see how they could find that.

After some more discussion, Truby said, “I’m going to go ahead and make a motion. It’s not what I want to do, but it’s what I have to do.”

Truby made a motion to deny the variance and noted that the violation was because “the applicant built the addition without acquiring a building permit.”

Truby’s motion passed unanimously.

The other variance requests were all approved unanimously. Two were for older homes and were being requested because the city had changed the setback requirements, so what was once conforming had become nonconforming.

The contractor for a proposed house at 1413 Lexington Ave. noted that if all the setbacks were adhered to, the house could only be 10 feet wide. The board granted a variance to allow a 20-foot encroachment into a 35 foot required side setback, noting that other houses in the block would still be closer to the street than this one. The houses in that block were apparently built before the city decided to impose a 35-foot setback.