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20080617_PC_mtg_min 1 PLANNING COMMISSION CITY MANAGER Libby Bacon Diane Schleicher Demery Bishop James P. Boyle PLANNING & ECONOMIC Sandy Chandler DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR John Major, Vice Chair Brannyn G. Allen Anne Miller David Postle Chuck Powell, Chair CITY ATTORNEY Whitley Reynolds Edward M. Hughes MINUTES Planning Commission Meeting June 17, 2008 – 7:00 p.m. Chuck Powell called the June 17, 2008, Planning Commission meeting to order. Other Commissioners present were: Libby Bacon, Demery Bishop, James Boyle, John Major, Anne Miller, David Postle, and Whitley Reynolds. Absent was Sandy Chandler. Chuck Powell called for a motion on the Minutes of the May 20, 2008, Planning Commission meeting. Demery Bishop moved to approve. John Major seconded. The vote was unanimous. Powell called for a motion on the Minutes of the May 28, 2008, Planning Commission meeting. James Boyle moved to approve and David Postle seconded. Libby Bacon did not vote and stated that she was not present at that meeting, and all of the others voted in favor of the motion. Powell called for a motion on the Minutes of the June 4, 2008, Commission meeting. Anne Miller motioned to approve. Major seconded. The vote was unanimous. Chuck Powell asked if there were any Disclosures. Whitley Reynolds stated that he prepared drawings for Anthony Abbott. Anthony Abbott represented a request for a Zoning Variance (Section 5-090) from Section 3-090, Schedule of Development Regulations, for 9 Logan Street, PIN 4-0003-01-005, Zone R-1-B. The request was for a front setback variance for a porch and stairs for a new single-family dwelling. The porch would have a 16.9-foot setback and the stairs would have a 12-foot setback. Whitley Reynolds recused himself. Brannyn Allen explained that the front setback required in the zone was 20 feet and that the property was a substandard lot of record. She said that Abbott was using a lot-and-a-half for the preservation of a tree and additional green space. Allen said that while the requested variance did not meet the true test outlined in the Land Development Code, it was in keeping with the Master Plan. Anne Miller asked if Abbott could put the steps on the side instead of the front. Allen explained that the proposed home was a Katrina Cottage, a ready-made cottage designed and produced by Lowe’s, so making modifications was challenging but could be done. Chuck Powell asked if it was prefab construction. Allen said that it was and she referred to a Katrina Cottage on Van Horne Avenue. John Major asked about the 200-foot rule. Allen said that using the 200-foot rule Abbott could come to 15.7 feet. Major asked about a 37-inch Live Oak tree on the property. Referring to the cottage, Abbott said that it represented his attempt to reduce his carbon footprint. He gave details of his acquisition of the property, his family, and preservation of the historic integrity of the cabin he owned next door to the vacant property. Abbott said he had a house designed for the entire lot-and-a-half and that it would have required cutting of the limbs of the tree and he was told by a tree surgeon that the tree would die. He said that the large house was also out of character with the neighborhood. Abbott concluded by comparing the house and the Katrina Cottage. Major said that the left rear corner would be the same 2 space for both designs. Abbott said that the house would have gone straight up but the cottage would not have a full second story; the roof was tapered which would save the branches from being cut. He discussed additional green space and showed a front elevation of the proposed cottage. He said it would be in keeping with the streetscape, would be built three or four feet above grade, and that there would be no parking underneath. Abbott said he was on the Zoning Board of Appeals for Chatham County for fifteen years and that variances were not always about hardship; it was about granting relief on oddly shaped lots. Referring to the lot, Abbott said he had the width to do whatever he wanted but if he wanted to put in a house that was narrow and preserved a lot of green space and was in keeping with the character of the street, then it would help very much to have a little bit of relief in the front. Referring to the green space, James Boyle asked Abbott about a swimming pool. Abbott said that he was not looking at a pool. Abbott gave the dimensions of the space. He said that he got rid of pine trees because they scared him. He spoke of two palms and an oak tree on the property and another oak across the street that provided canopy. He spoke of the green space being for drainage. David Postle asked the location of parking. Abbott explained that it would be along the front and along the side, near the existing cabin. Postle asked about room placement inside the structure. Abbott said that facing the front, the living room would be to the left and the kitchen to the right. He said that in back there would be a room and a master bedroom, and two bedrooms and a bath in the loft. He said there were potentially four bedrooms. Abbott described the main floor as having 910 square feet and the loft having 622 square feet. Postle asked if there were other Katrina models that would avoid the variance issue. Abbott said no, that he would need a variance of some kind. Postle asked if Abbott would consider putting the porch and steps on the west side of the building. Abbott said that it would ruin the green space. Postle asked if the variance was not granted would he consider building the porch and steps on the west side. Abbott stated no, he would go back to the drawing board. After Abbott spoke about the site and proposed cottage, Allen gave an explanation of the 200-foot rule at Libby Bacon’s request. Bacon asked Abbott if he would consider notching the stairs into the porch. Abbott said it was prefab and what you have delivered is what you use. He said that the house was small and he was making a sacrifice to preserve green space. He said that the porch was about all they were going to have as a welcoming area. He said that notching the stairs would cut down on the porch and it would look less welcoming. He said it was a tradeoff for green space that would never be built on. Major asked if the shallowness of the lot met the definition of hardship. Allen said that shallow could mean different things. She said that during the last City Council meeting City Attorney Bubba Hughes mentioned an opinion a judge had issued about a case on Tybee where a substandard lot of record was the hardship. Major and Allen discussed Abbott’s property. Postle asked if the majority of the lots on Logan Street were substandard. Allen said yes, which was why the Staff Report mentioned that the request was in keeping with the Recommended Development Strategies for the Inland Cottage Neighborhood. Boyle spoke about the avoidance of a saw tooth appearance on the street. Powell asked if the oak tree had recently been trimmed. Abbott said he had it trimmed in anticipation of building the larger house. Powell said that piling concrete blocks on the base of an oak tree was probably not good for it. Abbott said that was a brick skirting that was there when he bought it. Powell asked for public comment. He closed the Public Hearing. Boyle motioned to approve. Miller seconded. The vote was five in favor with Bacon opposed and Reynolds having recused. The motion to approve passed. Bacon said that the porch was within reason but Abbott could go to the west with the steps. Powell said that Abbott would go before City Council on July 10. Brannyn Allen said that Council requested that the Planning Commission discuss the revised Shore Protection Ordinance in July so that Council could hear it in August. After a question from John Major, Allen said that they could make any comments or suggestions prior to the next Commission meeting. Anne Miller asked when the Commissioners would receive packets. Brannyn Allen said the Monday of the week before the Planning Commission meeting. 3 * * * * * James Boyle asked if it was the landward setback ordinance rather than the shore protection. He said that the second in command at the DNR had definite thoughts about scientific process with regards to how far the setback should be when there was not a dune or a seawall. Brannyn Allen said that she had many meetings with the DNR and they did have some very interesting scientific comments about how to handle areas that do not have dunes. She said the problem was that it was based on the erosion rate. Boyle said that Galveston, Texas, had a seawall similar to Tybee Island. Allen said that Galveston was raised three feet after building the seawall. Chuck Powell spoke of a report about a city in Texas where whenever the shoreline encroaches on a house built in the dunes and on the beach, the property becomes the state’s property. He said he did not think Tybee would ever approach it that way. Allen said that was a Texas state law. She said they have looked at ordinances from Texas, Florida, the Carolinas, the Great Lakes, Maryland, and New Hampshire. She said they use erosion rates or scientific data that the City was not equipped to handle at the Staff level. A system used in Florida was discussed. Demery Bishop said that Brannyn Allen had mentioned that City Attorney Bubba Hughes cited a court case that said that substandard lots of record are considered hardships. Allen said that Hughes made that reference to her; it was not part of a Public Hearing. The group discussed the issue further. The meeting adjourned.