311 E State St Culver_1The Culver Board of Zoning Appeals heard the height variance request of Gregory and Alyssa Burns during their meeting on April 15th.

The variance is needed because the new construction home at 311 North State Street is 1-foot 2 and a half inches over the towns 35 feet standard.

Erik Larson of Culver spoke on behalf of the Burns and said they are seeking an 8-inch height variance for the three-story home they are building immediately west of the Culver Town Park.  He said, “The request is due to a mistake made on where we were measuring the total height of the house from.  We were under the assumption that we were measuring from the height of the top of the foundation to the tip of the house.  When the BZA came out to measure we were told we were actually 8 inches below the top of the foundation from where they were going to measure.”

Culver Building Commissioner Chuck DeWitt said he went out to measure the house there was no grade established.  He went back out later and established the grade.  The house is now one foot two and a half inches taller than the standard.

Mr. Larson asked how the grade is established and the Building Commissioner said according to the town’s ordinance it’ to be set before constructions.  When the house is already constructed, they measure the 4-corners to the flat ground and average them for the grade.

Larson said there is now a financial hardship to alter the roof to meet town code and Culver BZA Attorney Jenette Surrisi said, “You can not have a hardship that is self-imposed.”

Homeowner Greg Burns said he contracted to have a home built to meet code and since the contracted didn’t meet code he has the financial hardship was not self-imposed but created by the contractor.

BZA President Dan Adams made a statement saying, “We have been dealing with this house since October.  Lots of misunderstandings.  Lot of being lead wrong.  However, you want to look at it.  You swear there is no intention of doing that.  You would think that once we reversed the variance for the porch, we thought we were misled, to go to the maximum height allowed.  I think that’s in very poor taste.”

BZA member Barry McManaway asked it there was a stop work order placed on the project once it was determined the house was too tall.

The contractor, Eric Larson said they were told to continue working, to seal up the house so rain wouldn’t damage the interior.

Chuck DeWitt said he told the contractor he could “weather it in to protect what you have already done.”  The Building Commissioner also told the contractor not to put the shingles on the roof and Larson said, “You told me it you go ahead with putting those shingles on, that’s on you.  Not once did you say don’t put the shingles on the roof.”

BZA Secretary Leigh Marshall read into the record eight letters, five of which were against and three in favor.  The Board of Zoning Appeals also heard from Culver citizens who were at the meeting and those who attended online.

After additional discussion with the public, the petitioner, the contractor and the board the motion was made to move to the three Findings of Fact.  Each member voted on each of the three finding of fact with the final one stating, “The strict application of the terms of this zoning ordinance will result in practical difficulty in the use of the property. Member Dan Osborn voted yes while Mr. McManawya, Ms. Marshall and Mr. Adams voted no.

The motion was made to deny the height variance request presented by Greg and Alyssa Burns and the Culver Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved the  motion to deny  the height variance request.

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