Care-home owners, county reach expansion compromise Safety dispute settled

federal standards at issue

July 17, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A year-long dispute between a Pasadena couple and county planning and zoning officials over the expansion of their home for senior citizens has ended with a compromise -- and a new battle.

Edmund and Eugena Janik, who run an assisted-care facility on Outing Avenue for eight residents, were seeking permission from the county to add seven more people.

Citing fire safety concerns, the county Permit Application Center denied the request for expansion of Oak Lodge Senior Home, and the case went to the Board of Appeals.

A lawyer for the Janiks, andFrank Ward, director of the Permit Application Center, resolved their differences late last week, and the agreement will become final when the Janiks' architect submits final plans.

The agreement will let the Janiks keep the sprinkler system in the $175,000 split-level home rather than buy and install a new system.

The couple will buy a new fire-retardant door for the lower-level portion of the home and comply with other fire safety standards.

"Frankly, to me, it was very encouraging," said Thomas J. Wohlgemuth, the Annapolis lawyer representing the Janiks.

"The county was willing to work with the applicant and help the situation."

Ward said he, too, wanted to avoid appearing before the Board of Appeals.

"I think, basically, the Board of Appeals is something like going to court," he said. "If the county and the property owner can work something out, that's always better."

But the Janiks have another hurdle to cross before they can open their home to seven new occupants -- the American Disabilities Act, which requires that all doors in an assisted-care home be no less than 32 inches wide.

Michael Kogut, an architect hired by the Janiks, said the home has eight doors that fail to comply with federal standards.

Kogut said new doors should cost about $120 each, but the price could rise drastically if builders must move or alter any air-conditioning ducts or plumbing to accommodate the doors.

Although the Janiks could apply for a state waiver, Kogut said it was unlikely that the state would grant it.

"I think it's pretty clear-cut," he said. "You can only go so far."

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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