The town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) granted a variance for a home to move closer to the Gulf of Mexico, even though the home is not moving.
ZBA member Chuck Fuller became frustrated Thursday, April 8, with a staff presentation, which recommended a home at 6601 Gulfside Road receive a variance of the town’s code to allow the home to move 4 feet closer to the water.
The home was built in 1969 and sits 88 feet from the water, or 62 feet closer to the water than the 150-foot Gulf waterfront setback guidelines.
Because the home was built before the waterfront setback rules were created, a variance was never needed previously.
But, now that homeowners Paul and Sarah Karon want to build a 795-square-foot second story on top of the existing structure, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson told the board the variance is now needed.
For setback requirements, the point of measure the town must use is from the closest part of the structure to the water.
In this instance, that point is the new roof overhang that will be built on the second story, which means the home will technically be 4 feet closer to the water.
“This makes no sense because there is no impact being made,” Fuller said. “The footprint doesn’t get any closer. Why is the home getting closer to the water if it’s the same footprint?”
Simpson, however, said because the older home is legally nonconforming, the structure can’t be expanded without the variance.
After Simpson spoke, ZBA member Sally Boynton still questioned why a variance was needed.
A variance is typically granted because an undue hardship exists on a property that would otherwise not allow the property owner to build on the lot.
Boynton suggested there was no hardship for an existing 3,390-square-foot home with four bedrooms. The second story would make the home 4,185 square feet total.
“Why do they need this addition, and how does the denial represent an undue hardship?” Boynton asked.
Architect Cesar Morales told the board the Karons are building a master bedroom and master bath on the second floor because their in-laws will be moving in and they need more room.
“I’m not sure this meets the hardship requirement,” Boynton said.
ZBA member Ben Feole said there has been a pattern in the area of granting variance requests resulting in additional square footage.
Town planner Steve Schield noted that nine variances have been granted on Gulfside Road. Five of those variances were for additions, and four of them were for teardown and rebuild homes.
“The setback of 88 feet is in line with others granted in the area,” Schield said.
The board voted by a 5-1 vote to grant the variance, with Boynton dissenting.
The variance is for the second-story structure only, and if the home is rebuilt in the future, the variance will be null and void.
Contact Kurt Schulteis at email@example.com.
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