Neighbors vow to fight house plans

Triangular shape doesn't abide by rules, they say

April 03, 2003|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

Residents on Flowertuft Court in Columbia are vowing to challenge a decision by the Wilde Lake village architectural committee, approving the construction of a triangular home on their traditional street.

Bob Velke, who lives next door to the lot where the house is proposed, said the village architectural committee's 3-2 decision March 27 to approve the house plan failed to uphold covenants governing construction in the village.

"We're certainly hoping and planning to do anything we can to appeal through the county ... to get an injunction or restraining order against the owner," said Velke, who has been leading the street's 15 households in their opposition.

The architectural committee approved builder Clayton R. Marshall's proposal to build a house at the entrance to the Flowertuft Court cul-de-sac, on what is believed to be the village's last vacant residential lot. Because most of the lot is in a flood plain, there is room only for an unusually shaped house.

The neighbors fear that the house, with a 70-foot-wide side wall that would be about 5 feet from Velke's property line, would disrupt the uniformity of the neighborhood and hurt property values.

Velke claims the shape and position of the house violate covenants governing the outside appearance of homes.

"I'm pretty upset about the whole thing," Velke said. "I feel as though we've lost faith in the integrity of the system and our representatives."

John Hannay, chairman of the architectural committee, said the majority of the committee felt Marshall's application met the covenants. He said, however, that the committee would prefer the house be constructed closer to the middle of the lot in the flood plain, noting neighbors' concerns.

"Whoever the developer is is limited in where they can develop something on the lot," he said. "If there's a way we can deal with that issue, I think that would [be] a solution that everyone would be happier with."

Architectural committee member Philip Kirsch voted against the plans because he said the proposed house would be inconsistent with the rest of the neighborhood.

"The way that it'd be put in the corner, and the house would be long and narrow right next to the lot line -- I didn't think that was appropriate," he said.

Velke said he and his neighbors would welcome Marshall building a house in the flood plain, allowing the house to conform with the Colonial-style homes that line the street.

Marshall is appealing the county Department of Planning and Zoning's October denial of his request to build in the flood plain. The case is scheduled to go before the county hearing examiner April 23.

"The neighbors all said if he got a waiver to the flood plain, we'd be out there to help him build the house," Velke said. "That's how badly we wanted it."

The lot has exchanged owners a handful of times, and no other owners had been successful in their attempts to build on the land. The village had denied about five proposals because the plans did not meet the village covenant guidelines.

Marshall, who declined to comment, bought the lot last year for $15,000. The state assesses the land at almost $50,000, with the full amount to be phased in by July.

Marshall previously applied to build on the property last year, but the village architectural committee rejected that application in August.

The plans that the committee approved last week are similar to the original application. Marshall made small changes in the plans, including moving the front door to face Columbia Road, adding landscaping and changing venting on the peaks of the roof.

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