Planning Commission deadlocks on Big Rock home

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Two commissioners say they have concerns about excessive grading and neighbors not being notified about the project.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

A couple wanting to build a 9,390-square-foot home on Seaboard Road in the Big Rock neighborhood will have to wait at least another two weeks to find out if the Planning Commission will approve the project. At its meeting on Monday, the commission, which was without Chair David Fox, was unable to break a 2-2 deadlock. The commission continued the item to May 3, at which time Fox could possibly cast the deciding vote.

Concerns were raised by two commissioners at Monday’s meeting about the variance request on the project for more grading than allowed by the city code and that the project was not noticed to others on the street.

The proposed site for the project is a 32.37-acre parcel. Originally, the home was to be built on a flat portion of the land, but that would have interfered with some neighbors’ views of the ocean. So the proposal was changed for the structure to be on a less-flat area, therefore requiring grading beyond the 1,000 cubic yards. This would allow the property owners to have a flat backyard, a second unit, two swimming pools and a tennis court. Also, grading is required to make a driveway. Commissioner Pete Anthony said he did not see a “substantial need” for the additional grading, which would be required to grant the variance.

“What I see is a development that wishes it was a flat lot, and it’s not,” Anthony said.

Kraig Hill, who lives on Seaboard Road, said he was concerned the project was not noticed to anybody on the street. City law requires all people within a 500-foot radius to be noticed, but because the land is so large, the people on the street did not qualify. The law was recently changed to increase the notification distance to 1,000 feet when a project involves larger lots, but it had not taken effect for this project.

Commissioner Joel Walker said it troubled him that people on Seaboard Road were not noticed, because they would be affected by the project, especially since trucks would be coming through to do the grading. Walker said he also felt uneasy that the commission had not heard a formal recommendation from the Big Rock Homeowners Association about the project, although the nearby Upper Mesa Property Owners Association said it was fine with the project. At the meeting, Mark Herron, who is on the Big Rock board said the board had no objections either. He said he did not have a problem that people on the street were not officially noticed, because they had other ways to find out about the project.

“If Mr. Hill didn’t know about it, he wouldn’t be here,” Herron said. “So obviously there was a way to find out about the project.”

Commissioners John Sibert and Les Moss said they would have approved the project. Moss also made a statement on his view about variances.

“There seems to be a feeling in this community when people ask for a variance, it’s a misdemeanor, and when the commission grants it, it’s a felony,” Moss said. “I don’t agree with that.”

Also at the meeting, the commission unanimously granted a tentative parcel map to turn two neighboring Point Dume parcels into four. The two lots, which are about 1.5 acres, are already under construction, and the creation of the new parcels would allow for the construction of two more homes. The applicant, Paul Azzi, must get approval from the City Council for a final map approval.