The city’s Design Review Commission voted last week to deny an appeal filed by neighbors in the Glenmorrie Neighborhood who objected to the city’s approval of a new 4,400-square-foot home on Ivy Lane. The 3-2 vote, however, did not come as quickly as some had expected, with commissioners, staff and several neighbors all contributing to a lengthy discussion and hearing that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours.
Neighbors filed the appeal on several grounds, including that the city didn’t notify the proper residents of staff’s decision to approve the project, and that the project will have negative impacts on the surrounding character.
The city laid out its case on each point of contention and argued that the proposed home, which is being built by Gerritz Custom Homes, falls well within what’s allowed for the lot. Neighbors who testified took issue with the city’s seemingly arbitrary process for determining setback variances and which neighbors get notified when a new project is proposed, among other issues. Others also worry about the negative impacts that herbicide spraying and other invasive species mitigation efforts could have on the ravine along Glenmorrie Drive.
In the end, the DRC voted 3-2 to deny the appeal, opening the door for construction to begin. Those who favored the appeal were commissioners Poulson and Smith; those who rejected the appeal were commissioners Rabbino, Melendez and Jeff Shearer. Before they voted, however, the commissioners had a lively debate about a range of issues. A few highlights from that discussion follow here:
I don’t feel we should even be here. It is pretty clear-cut. I feel sympathy for the conditions being put on neighbors, but I believe the applicant has jumped through all the hoops. — Kelly Melendez, DRC commissioner
What’s lost is the overriding quality of what we’re doing. I think there’s all kinds of things that could be questioned and appealed. It’s arbitrary. I personally believe we should look at it more from an aspirational perspective. I think there was not enough effort with this development to incorporate it into the environment in which it sits. David Poulson, DRC Chair
It is not our job to deviate from (city staff’s) finding. If we do that, there is no certainty. David Rabino, DRC commissioner
I’m sure we’d all agree this would have been a nice little bungalow. But they did all their due diligence. We can’t randomly say this would have been better as a little bungalow. Kelly Melendez, DRC commissioner