THREE HUNDRED THRITY-EIGHTH MEETING
THURSDAY– SEPTEMBER 22, 2016- 7:00 P.M.
- Roll Call.
- Approval of Minutes - May 26, 2016 Meeting.
- Variance Application No. 861- 332 Laurel Avenue filed by Ms. Felicia Hyatt.
- Public Hearing on Application.
- Executive Session, if necessary.
- Final Action by the Board of Appeals.
- Action on Resolution No. 16-03-BOA.
Convened: 7:35 P.M.
Board Members Present:
Margaret A. Chenault, Chairwoman
Mary Eileen Leszcz
Dennis Whitley, III, Esquire
Martin A. Flemion, City Administrator
Roger Thomas, Esquire, City of Laurel Legal Counsel
Jack T. Brock, Director, Department of Economic and Community Development
Christian L. Pulley, Assistant Director, Dept. of Economic and Community Development
Sara Green, Secretary
Citizens Present: 4
The minutes of the May 26, 2016 meeting were approved as written on motion by Mr. Lee, seconded by Mr. Whitley, and carried on a roll call vote of all other members present.
Next, the Board heard the request for Variance Application No. 861, 332 Laurel Avenue, filed by Ms. Felicia Hyatt, Owner, 332 Laurel Avenue Laurel, Maryland 20707. Ms. Pulley completed the reading of the record for the administrative process that was completed by Staff and presented the Technical Staff Report stating that the Applicant was requesting approval to reduce the required yard regulations for a single family lot in order to create another parcel to be sold; as well as reduce yard maintenance at 332 Laurel Avenue. Ms. Pulley stated that the property sat on 13,750 sq. ft. of land and was considered a legally conforming parcel according to the Schedule of Area, Yard, and Height Regulations for residential uses in the Code and that the applicant was requesting a variance that would essentially create two (2) non-conforming lots. The existing residential home would remain and the Applicant intended to apply for approval to subdivide the parcel and sell the other lot for the future construction of a new (additional) single family home. Ms. Pulley stated that the Technical Staff Report recommended denial of the application.
Next, Mr. Gregory Benefiel, Survey’s Inc., 350 Main Street Laurel, Maryland 20707, Surveyor for the Applicant addressed the Commission and provided a summary of the Applicant’s request, research of other lots in the neighborhood of 332 Laurel Avenue and the existing yard setbacks. Mr. Benefiel stated that there were numerous lots on Laurel Avenue for which the property frontage does meet the current zoning requirements. Mr. Lee asked Mr. Benefiel if the application were approved how much room would be between the house next to Ms. Hyatt’s and the proposed new house. Mr. Benefiel said there would be approximately thirteen (13) feet between houses.
Mr. Michael Collins, President, Legends Group, P.O. Box 511 Burtonsville, Maryland 20866 addressed the Board stating that his company would purchase the second parcel if the variance and a subdivision were approved. Mr. Collins showed a rendering of a house type that his company had previously built within the Historic District and that it would be the proposed house constructed on the parcel.
Ms. Felicia Hyatt, Applicant/Property Owner, 332 Laurel Avenue Laurel, Maryland 20707 addressed the Board and read into the record a letter she’d written, that was received by the Department of Economic and Community Development on July 8, 2016 and that was provided to the Board Members in their information packets prior to the meeting.
Mr. Christopher Pohl, 334 Laurel Avenue Laurel, Maryland 20707 addressed the Board stating that he hadn’t heard any evidence presented that any of the properties Mr. Benefiel mentioned earlier were subdivided or even reviewed by the City of Laurel Planning Commission or Board of Appeals because they were created prior to the City’s Zoning Regulations. Mr. Pohl said he’d lived in the neighborhood for a very long time and that to his knowledge there weren’t any similar requests such as the variance being requested that had been approved on Laurel Avenue. Further, Mr. Pohl said that at the Planning Commission where the case was previously discussed, he’d stated that he was not in opposition to the request. However, he wanted to make it clear that he also was not endorsing the request.
Mr. Lee stated that as Mr. Pohl pointed out that most (if not all) of the lots on Laurel Avenue predated the existing zoning requirements because they were in the Historic District and created prior to the City’s zoning regulations. Mr. Lee asked Ms. Pulley if there had been any similar requests approved by the City. Ms. Pulley stated that there was no record of a request such as the Applicant’s and that City zoning regulations did not come into play until 1962. Mr. Pohl addressed the Board again and stated that there had not been any such construction completed on the street in the last 63 years.
Mr. Whitley stated that while he sympathized with Ms. Hyatt but that based on the evidence presented the request did not meet the requirements for approving a variance. Chairwoman Chenault stated that she unfortunately agreed with Mr. Whitley that the application did not meet the requirements. Chairwoman Chenault asked Mr. Lee and Mrs. Leszcz what they thought. Mr. Lee and Mrs. Leszcz concurred with Mr. Whitley and Chairwoman Chenault.
Chairwoman Chenault stated that she felt the Board should adjourn to executive session to speak with legal counsel. Staff raised the question of whether an executive session was permitted. Chairwoman Chenault and Mr. Whitley stated that they could adjourn to executive session to meet with counsel. Mr. Roger Thomas, Esquire, City of Laurel Legal Counsel stated that because “Executive Session, if necessary”, was on the agenda under the Variance Application that in his opinion the Board could adjourn to executive session to meet with legal counsel.
Mr. Benefiel interrupted and addressed the Board stating that he thought he could find a plat from 1988 where a lot was subdivided on Laurel Avenue. Ms. Hyatt returned to the podium stating that Mr. Pohl’s comment regarding there having been no construction on the street for numerous years was probably accurate because many of the homes were old, had been passed down from generation to generation, or were rental properties so the owners (of the rental properties) didn’t have a vested interest in the community.
Chairwoman Chenault adjourned the meeting to executive session for the purpose of meeting with counsel at approximately 8:02 p.m.
The meeting was reconvened at approximately 8:09 p.m. Chairwoman Chenault asked if any of the Board Members had any other questions or comments regarding Variance Application No. 861. The members didn’t have anything to add. Chairwoman Chenault asked Staff if they had anything to add. Staff did not have anything to add. Chairwoman Chenault asked for a motion regarding the application.
Mr. Lee made a motion to accept Staff’s recommendation to deny Variance Application No. 861 and approve Resolution No. 16-03-BOA as presented. Mrs. Leszcz seconded the motion. Roll call continued with Mr. Whitley and Chairwoman Chenault voting for approval of the motion.
Adjournment: 8:15 P.M.
APPROVED: Sara Green, Secretary to the Board DATE: December 1, 2016