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Zoning Board of Adjustments /

building and standards commission

Regular Session Agenda

August 6, 2015

6:00 PM

City Council Chambers

200 West Walker Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I.                    Call to order and Roll call of members

 

II.                 Approval of Minutes

A.     July 9, 2015

B.      July 22, 2015

 

III.              Other Business

A.     Consider and take action to excuse absences for the June 18, 2015, July 9, 2015 and July 22, 2015 meetings.

 

IV.              The Swearing in of Speakers and Witnesses

 

V.                 Public Hearings and Action Items from Public Hearings (ZBA)

A.     Hold a public hearing and take action on an appeal by Crystal Espinoza to the League City Historic Commission’s denial on June 18, 2015 of HC15-08 (All About Plumbing), a request to pave parking areas for three (3) lots, located along the north side of East Main Street (FM 518), east of Kansas Avenue with the addresses of 804, 808 and 812 East Main Street in accordance with Chapter 125-51B. of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

B.      Hold a public hearing and take action on Zoning Board of Adjustments Application, ZBA15-07 (702 Harborside Way), a variance request to the minimum 25-foot front setback requirement (Schedule 125-70.C.) for properties zoned “RSF-7” (Single-family residential with a minimum lot size of 7,000 square feet) on approximately 0.318 acres, legally described as Lots 2 and 3 of the Palm Key Subdivision, generally located north of Marina Bay Drive (FM 2094), east of Waterford Way and west of Mariners Drive with an approximate address of 702 and 703 Harborside Way.

 

VI.              Public Hearings and Action Items from Public Hearings (BASC)

A.     Hold a public compliance hearing with possible action on BASC15-01 (311 Perkins Ave.), to determine whether a building or structure is a dangerous building, to show cause why the ordered action has not been completed and/or why civil penalties should not be assessed, and issue any order(s) determined necessary to address such conditions per 22-331 et. seq. of the League City Code of Ordinances on property located at 331 Perkins Avenue, League City, Texas 77573, legally described as Lots one (1) and two (2), Block one (1) of Merchant’s Addition Subdivision, a subdivision in League City, Galveston County, Texas, according to the map thereof recorded in Volume 238, Page 12 in the Office of the County Clerk of Galveston County, Texas, together with all improvements thereon.

 

OWNERS/LIENHOLDERS

Brent A. Lovett, 311 Perkins Avenue, League City, Texas 77573-2151

James A. and Beverly M. Lovett, P.O. Box 686, Port O’Connor, Texas 77982

Lisa G. Tolman, Trustee, 322 East Main Street, Suite 108, League City, Texas 77573

Sears, Roebuck & Co., 45 Congress Street, Salem, MA 01970

Sears, Roebuck & Co., c/o Jay Taylor, Jay A. Taylor, P.C., 3311 Richmond Avenue, Suite 307, Houston, Texas 77098

 

B.      Hold a public compliance hearing with possible action on BASC15-02 (2806 Sugar Wood Drive), to determine whether a building or structure is a dangerous building, to show cause why the ordered action has not been completed and/or why civil penalties should not be assessed, and issue any order(s) determined necessary to address such conditions per 22-331 et. seq. of the League City Code of Ordinances on property located at 2806 Sugar Wood Drive, League City, Texas, 77573, legally described as Lot 60, Block 10, Meadow Bend, Section 2, a subdivision in League City, Galveston County, Texas, according to the map thereof recorded in Volume 15, Pages 18 and 19, in the Office of the County Clerk of Galveston County, Texas, together with all improvements thereon.

 

OWNERS/LIENHOLDERS/OTHER PARTIES

James and Regina Jackson, 2806 Sugar Wood Drive, League City, TX, 77573

Victor A. Strum, Law Office of Victor A. Sturm, P.C., 2420 South Grand Blvd. Pearland, TX, 77581

Albert E. Butler, 5353 West Alabama, Suite 515, Houston, TX, 77056

Harbour Insurance Services, LLC, 2800 Marina Bay Drive, Suite P, League City, TX, 77573

Houston Community Management Services, 17049 El Camino Real Suite 100, Houston, TX, 77058

Logos Investments, LLC., 2002 Sandy Lake Dr., Friendswood, TX, 77548

Orchid Underwriters Agency, Inc, 1201 19th Place, Suite A110, Vero Beach, FL. 32960

Randall B. Ashby, Waldron & Schneider, L.L.P., 15150 Middlebrook Drive, Houston, TX. 77058

 

VII.           Adjournment

 

CERTIFICATE

 

THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE NOTICE OF MEETING WAS POSTED ON THE BULLETIN BOARD AT CITY HALL OF THE CITY OF LEAGUE CITY, TEXAS, BY THE 31st DAY OF JULY, 2015 BY 6 PM, AND WAS POSTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH CHAPTER 551, LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE (THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT).  ITEMS POSTED IN THE OPEN SESSION PORTIONS OF THIS AGENDA MAY ALSO BE DISCUSSED IN CLOSED OR EXECUTIVE SESSION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT. THE BOARD RESERVES THE RIGHT TO HEAR ANY OF THE ABOVE DESCRIBED AGENDA ITEMS THAT QUALIFY FOR AN EXECUTIVE SESSION, IN AN EXECUTIVE SESSION BY PUBLICLY ANNOUNCING THE APPLICABLE SECTION NUMBER OF THE OPEN MEETINGS ACT, (CHAPTER 551 OF THE TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE, SPECIFICALLY INCLUDING CHAPTER 551.071 “CONSULTATION WITH ATTORNEY”), THAT JUSTIFIES EXECUTIVE SESSION TREATMENT.

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE PRESENCE OF A QUORUM OF THE MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL AT ANY TIME DURING THE COURSE OF THE ABOVE-REFERENCED PROCEEDING MAY CONSTITUTE A MEETING OF CITY COUNCIL PURSUANT TO THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT, CHAPTER 551 OF THE TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE.  BY THIS NOTICE, THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY ADVISED OF SAID MEETING NOT LESS THAN 72 HOURS IN ADVANCE OF THE DATE, TIME AND LOCATION NOTED ABOVE.

 

 

__________________________________________     

RICHARD WERBISKIS       

CITY PLANNER

 

MINUTES

CITY OF LEAGUE CITY

ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENTS/

BUILDING AND STANDARDS COMMISSION

REGULAR SESSION

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 06, 2015 at 6:00 P.M.

COUNCIL CHAMBERS

200 WEST WALKER STREET

*************************************************************

 

I.                    Call to order and Roll call of members

            Mr. Christiansen called the meeting to order at 6:05 PM.

 

            Members present:                                                          Members absent:

            James R. Christiansen, Chair                                         Ed Rainey

            Katie Benoit                                                                 Lianne Russell

            Michael Hendershot, Vice-Chair

            Tamra Gann-Curry

                                                           

            City Representatives:

            Richard Werbiskis, AICP, Assistant Director P&D

            Mark Linenschmidt, AICP, CFM, Senior Planner

            Matthew Grooms, Planner

            Michelle Villareal, Deputy City Attorney

            Nghiem Doan, City Attorney arrived at 6:17 PM.

 

II.                 Approval of Minutes

A.     July 9, 2015

B.      July 22, 2015

 

Mr. Christiansen motioned to approve both minutes.

Ms. Benoit seconded the motion.

The motion is passed 4-0-0.

 

III.              Other Business

A.     Consider and take action to excuse absences for June 18, 2015, July 9, 2015 and July 22, 2015 meetings.

 

            Mr. Hendershot, Mr. Rainey, and Ms. Russell were absent June 18, 2015

            Mr. Hendershot was absent July 09, 2015

            Mr. Rainey was absent July 22, 2015.

 

            Mr. Christiansen – Can advance notices excuse absences without having to present the reason for the absence?

            Mr. Doan – You do not have to restate the reasons. As long as you present the reason to the body, the body can vote on it. If everyone has a copy of the letter, whether it was given in advance or after, that is all that is necessary.

 

            Mr. Christiansen – So, we would still have to vote on it, even if it’s an advance notice?

            Mr. Doan – Yes, you would still have to vote on whether that excuse that was presented was acceptable.

 

Ms. Benoit motioned to excuse all three absences.

Mr. Christiansen seconded the motion.

The motion passed 4-0-0.

 

IV.              The Swearing in of Speakers and Witnesses

Mr. Christiansen swore in the witnesses, stating this is a quasi-judicial board, which is being recorded; therefore, anybody who speaks should be aware it is considered testimony. Any appeal of the decision by the Zoning Board of Adjustment or Building and Standards Commission must be filed with the Court of Competent Jurisdiction within 10 days for the ZBA and 30 days for the Building and Standards Commission after the date of the decision rendered by this board/commission, or such time period as indicated by Section 216.014 Texas Local Government Code.

 

V.                 Public Hearings and Action Items from Public Hearings (ZBA)

A.     Hold a public hearing and take action on an appeal by Crystal Espinoza to the League City Historic Commission’s denial on June 18, 2015 of HC15-08 (All About Plumbing), a request to pave parking areas for three (3) lots, located along the north side of East Main Street (FM 518), east of Kansas Avenue with the addresses of 804, 808 and 812 East Main Street in accordance with Chapter 125-51B of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

Matthew Grooms, Planner, presented for the City of League City.

 

The request is for an appeal to the decision made by the Historic Commission on June 18, 2015, to deny a Certificate of Appropriateness for the three lots that were paved.

 

Meeting minutes, for the June 18th Historic Commission meeting, were provided to the commissioners.

 

The following timeline was given:

August 10, 1999 – Zoning was adopted by the City of League City. These three properties at that time were zoned Neighborhood Commercial, which is the current zoning.

August 30, 2005 – Zoning Map Revision 12 was adopted by City Council under Ordinance No. 2005-24. This map revision placed all three of these properties under both the RNC and HCD overlay districts.

December 9, 2008 – Current Design and Materials Guidelines were adopted for the Historic District.

June 1, 2015 – Code Compliance Division issued a stop-work order on this project requesting that all work be ceased until the proper permits and approvals were acquired.

June 18, 2015 – The Historic District Commission denied a Certificate of Appropriateness sought by the applicant.

June 24, 2015 – Appeal was filed with the City by the applicant.

August 6, 2015 – Appeal request to be heard before the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

 

A zoning map it shown illustrating which zoning districts the properties are in and which zoning ordinances the properties must abide by.

 

The Historic Commission voted to deny the Certificate of Appropriateness because the properties did not meet the Design and Materials Guidelines for the Historic District. There was also concern that the properties did not meet the 50 percent impervious coverage requirement for these districts. The applicant’s submitted site plan was shown, illustrating the parts of the property the owner completed prior to the stop work order. Prior to paving the lots, the parking areas were covered with a crushed stone, which is permissible under the Design and Materials Guidelines.

 

The applicant wanted to have the areas paved because the crushed stone had been a nuisance for the property and business owner; the material had to be consistently re-graded, and the dust and debris was infiltrating neighboring businesses and causing health issues. The applicant also stated that removing the existing paved area and paving with a new material that is compliant with the Design and Materials Guidelines would be a financial burden. The City believes the 50 percent impervious coverage requirement is exceeded. The City is concerned that the new material will cause drainage issues and that the significant impervious coverage could cause run-off into the surrounding areas.

 

City Staff recommends denial of the appeal because the property does not meet the Design and Materials Guidelines and the impervious coverage requirement.

 

City Staff and the applicant were available for questioning.

 

Mr. Christiansen – Mr. Grooms can you explain ordinance 125-85.

Mr. Grooms – 125-85 demonstrates that the Design and Materials Guidelines has been adopted by ordinances by citing it in the ordinance.

 

Mr. Grooms directed the Commissioners to read the Architectural Regulations, in section C of the Preservation Plan for League City and stated that the appeal is for a Certificate of Appropriateness, not for a variance to the zoning ordinance.

 

Mr. Christiansen called the applicant to the stand.

 

Bernard Aldape, Counsel for All About Plumbing (804 East Main St) – A man offered Mr. Espinoza asphalt at a discounted price, and Mr. Espinoza agreed to have the man fill the holes that were in the parking lot with the asphalt. Mr. Espinoza left and during this time, the man and his workers used more asphalt than needed. When Ms. Espinoza saw the amount of asphalt that was laid, she called to have the work stopped. Mr. and Mrs. Espinoza also asked the men if they needed a permit, and they said no. Mr. Espinoza spent $13,000 on the asphalt that was laid. The Espinozas are planning to take legal action against the workers because of the permit issues. Mr. and Mrs. Espinoza are asking the Commissioners to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness so that they, with the City, can figure out the least restrictive means. At the last hearing, neighbors spoke in favor of the asphalt because it decreased the amount of dust entering the buildings, and there have been no drainage issues so far. Mr. and Mrs. Espinoza are willing to work on any drainage issues that arise. The Espinozas are also willing to comply with the 50 percent rule, but only with the least restrictive means because of the money they have already spent on the asphalt.

 

Mr. Christiansen – Why didn’t the Espinozas have a contract with the worker who laid the asphalt, why did they pay the $13,000 without objection? 

Mr. Aldape did not respond.

 

Ms. Benoit – Did the business come before the Historic Commission multiple times?

Mr. Aldape - Yes.

 

Ms. Benoit – Based on the minutes from the Historic District, the owners seemed aware that the property was in the Historic District and had regulations, and were aware of the fact that they needed permits.

Mr. Aldape – The Espinozas had been in front of the Commission before, but were told by the City that they did not need the Certificate of Appropriateness for that matter.

 

Ms. Benoit – Was it just one time?

Mr. Aldape – Ms. Espinoza would be able to answer that question.

 

Ms. Benoit - The minutes possibly showed that the Espinozas had been before the Commission twice.

Mr. Aldape - There has been miscommunication between the Espinozas and the City; the Espinozas were originally told that they did not need to go before the Historic District.

 

Ms. Benoit – Was that for the fence.

Mr. Aldape – Yes, it was for the fence.

 

Mr. Aldape - The Espinozas went before the Commission a second time for a tree that was located on the property.

 

Ms. Benoit – The Espinozas had worked with the Commissioners and the City before and should have known they needed a permit.

Mr. Aldape – They are trying to mitigate cost, and the changes have improved the property. We can get the property to where there are no runoffs or water issues.

 

Ms. Benoit – Did the Espinozas speak to the Commissioners about ways to acquire a Certificate of Appropriateness? A 7-0-0 vote in favor of denying the Certificate is a strong decision. Did you discuss with them possible alternatives?

Mr. Aldape – I did. I believe the decision that was made was based on the fact that the Espinozas had been before the Commission multiple times, and was not reasonable. The first time they went before the Commission, the City clearly admitted they made a mistake. The second time was for a tree and only required small punitive actions.

 

Ms. Benoit – I disagree with that. The Commission is made up of neighbors, and they really are not into tit- for-tat sort of things. Looking at the discussion from the Commission, it looks like they were looking for some kind of in-between, but could not find any way to approve it, which lead to a 7-0-0 vote to deny it.

Mr. Aldape – I agree with you, but I think it’s unreasonable to say there is no way to get this property to a point where we can get a Certificate of Appropriateness. You stating that you’ve never seen the Commission deny someone is where we’re coming from. There has to be some way we can reach a meeting of minds; to help spend the least amount of money.

 

Noah Espinoza, owner of All About Plumbing (804 East Main Street) – The Historic District Commission had a long conversation about this and were half-and-half. There’s quite a few properties around me that have asphalt, including a church and an apartment complex that has asphalt that was newly paved. The church is two blocks behind my property. This was discussed by the Commission, but they never discussed how to make this feasible. We did not have any discussion on how we could please the Commission. I was only trying to pour asphalt in front of the concrete that was right next to my shop and leads directly into my shop. I did not think he had this much asphalt. I do have the contract. All it says is $1.75 per foot for his left over materials. The bill ended up being $5,000 more than what I paid because I was not pleased with the situation. It’s done now, and I’m just trying to correct the situation. I’m willing to put storm drainage or do whatever it is I need to do. There’s crushed gravel around the rest of the property for the snow cone stand. I’m pretty sure I’m right at the borderline of 50 percent, but I’m willing to correct that. I was taken advantage of. I did not think he was going to lay that much asphalt, but now that he did I just want to finish it, as opposed to pulling it up. The Commission allows stained concrete, and other companies have impermeable asphalt. They did deny it, but only till further discussion. I’m willing to accept the consequences; I just want to correct the issue.

 

Mr. Christiansen – The City just passed the Road Map to the Future, and they have been pushing that a lot. The City Manager was here discussing that on another issue. One of the things in their strategic planning, under the short-term, is development of the Historic District, specifically revitalizing Main Street and enforcing the Historic Standards. Your lots are directly on Main Street, in a premiere location. Citizens want to see improvement of that area, and the black top doesn’t meet the Historic Standards. I can understand why the Commission would prefer stamped concrete, because the cobble stone appearance fits in better with characteristics of the Historic District. What are your future designs for the three lots?

Mr. Espinoza – I want to landscape the entire front. We’re discussing if we should make it look like the museum that is behind the property. To make it look like an older wooden building. It’s an old warehouse building and I’ve tried to renovate it the best I can. It has taken a lot to get it to look the way it does now because it was in bad shape when we purchased it. I don’t plan on leaving it like that, but we’ve put everything on a stop because of the parking lot situation. I do want to get irrigation in the front, landscaping, and sidewalks in the front of the property, but I have to get it approved through the Historical Commission.  It may take a while because of the cost of everything, but those are my plans – to change the back or front to make it look more historical. I know the building is an eyesore, it’s old, but I can’t tear it down. We’re willing to do whatever we need to do to try to please the Historic District, although they haven’t said anything on that. We went to the meeting about renovating Main Street to see what was going to happen to the roads and sidewalks in the future. I do want to make the building more appealing.

 

Mr. Hendershot – Considering what you said, what was the goal of paving this area? Were you planning to knock down the dust by covering up all of the gravel parking area or just part of it?

 

A blueprint of the shop is shown.

 

Mr. Espinoza – In front of our metal building is concrete. I just wanted him to put asphalt right there, in front of that and about 10 feet in front of the bakery because the health department haggled them about tracking dust and dirt into the building. When I say the pictures of how much asphalt was laid down, I was upset, and you can see where they cut corners to get more square footage. I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal for them to pour it just in front of the concrete. However, I knew the amount they did pour was going to be an issue this Commission and the Historic Committee. It was not planned or I would have tried to get it approved. They said they allowed permeable asphalt. I would like to come before you guys with my plans in a month.

 

Mr. Christiansen opened the Public Hearing at 6:46 PM.   

 

David Hake (820 3rd Street) – Speaking as a resident of the District right now, I am sympathetic with the business owners and the situation they’re in. I could see how it could happen. Nonetheless, I think the Historic District did what they needed to do, and I recommend against the variance. I think there is a step-by-step solution that doesn’t have to be done all at once. My impression was that the applicant was going to back to the City and talk through some things. I recommend against this, but I do believe there is a solution.

 

Mr. Christiansen closed the Public Hearing at 6:49 PM.

 

Ms. Benoit – I have a question for the City Attorney. We are not giving a variance for the asphalt; we are giving a Certificate of Appropriateness?

Mr. Doan – You’re doing an appeal on the denial of the Certificate.

 

Ms. Benoit – So, all we’re doing is approving the Certificate of Appropriateness or denying it?

Mr. Doan – The motion would be a motion to uphold that decision or reverse that decision. The net result would be to either grant the Certificate or deny it.

 

Ms. Benoit – If we upheld the denial, what happens to this project? What are their options?

Mr. Doan – The improvements that they’ve done have not been authorized, so they would have to remove the improvements.

 

Ms. Benoit – So, it would have to go back to the City staff, and they would have to go back to the Historic Commission to come up with a solution?

Mr. Doan – The solution is some other way to do it. What they’re doing here is trying to get a permit after the fact. They should have gotten beforehand. So, they’re trying to get you to bless what they have done, and if you don’t give that blessing, they’re going to have to undo what has been done because they don’t have the approvals for it. How they proceed after that undoing is up to them and what they decide to seek approval for.

 

Ms. Benoit –I don’t think I’m qualified to say what needs to stay and what needs to go or how it needs to look. I could see it going back to the Historic Commission to work out some kind of solution.

Mr. Doan – I would think that we would be open to speaking with the applicant about finding a way to do this without having to rip everything up and the concerns about the asphalt that’s been placed on the right-of-way and the amount of asphalt that would take them over the percentage of impervious cover. Those things will need to be remedied, but I hope we can work with them to find a solution that doesn’t require the removal of everything.

Ms. Benoit – My struggle is overturning what the Commission has done. They have never denied anyone anything in the past, so there are some obvious issues here. However, I don’t feel that I’m qualified to talk about those things. I’d rather see this go back to the Commission and have them work it out. Rather than have it all ripped up, go back to the Commission, get the right permits, make sure it’s done properly, and let them work it out with the Commission. Is that a possibility?

Mr. Doan – That is something at the City staff level that we could explore, but to get us there we would need a affirming of the Commission’s decision because if it’s overturned then you’ve approved what’s been done.

 

Ms. Benoit motioned to affirm the Historic Commission’s decision and asked for City staff to work with the Commission and the applicant to come up with a solution.

Ms. Gann-Curry seconded the motion.

The motion passed 4-0-0.

 

B.      Hold a public hearing and take action on Zoning Board of Adjustments Application, ZBA15-07 (702 Harborside Way), a variance request to the minimum 25-foot front setback requirement (Schedule 125-70.C.) for properties zoned “RSF-7” (Single-family residential with a minimum lot size of 7,000 square feet) on approximately 0.318 acres, legally described as Lots 2 and 3 of the Palm Key Subdivision, generally located north of Marina Bay Drive (FM 2094), east of Waterford Way and west of Mariners Drive with an approximate address of 702 and 703 Harborside Way.

 

Mark Linenschmidt, Senior Planner, presented for the City of League City.

 

The request is for a 15-foot variance from the 25-foot front yard setback requirement listed in the Zoning Ordinance.The applicant has proposed to construct a residence that currently consists of two lots in the Palm Key Subdivision. The applicant also has a plat that is currently under review to combine those two lots into one singular lot.  The Palm Keys Subdivision was recorded by the City of League City in May 1999, several months before the City’s adoption of the Zoning Ordinances.

 

A zoning map is shown.

 

Should the variance be provided, the front portion of the structure would be directly against a five foot waterline and a five foot utility easement next to each other, combining the ten feet away from in front of the property line that is against Harborside Way. Based on the tests, setback requirements provide a buffer between residences for open space, light, air circulation, and limit noise and odors in neighborhoods Easements also provide safe distances between traveling vehicles and structures. The Palm Key subdivision was developed in 1999, and the five foot easements were developed at that time, however there was not a building line on that portion.

 

The applicant is requesting something that is permitted within the District. A building permit application for the construction of a house had not been submitted at this time, as it is pending this action, which will also affect recordation on the plat as well. The variance would not alter the essential character of the subdivision; the Palm Key Subdivision is a mixture of narrow residence of existing and new properties. The properties are very narrow and against the right-of-way. There is a private street on Harborside Way, which is approximately 28 feet wide. The Comprehensive Plan outlines and encourages the preservation and enhancement of existing neighborhoods, as shown in the test 1, 4, 7, and 8. Under The Plight of the Owner, the size, location, and configuration is not unique, application of the zoning ordinance after the plat was recorded does present a hardship for the owner. City Staff indicates that the granting of hardship should be peculiar and unique to the relatively small area of land, and should be neither financial in nature nor self-imposed. Given that the zoning was established after the plat recordation and because the existing character of the neighborhood and the policy set forth in Comprehensive plan were already established, City staff recommends approval of the variance and the variance is only applied to the side of the lot that is along Harborside Way because it has somewhat of a double frontage. After City staff sent out the packages, Engineering Department did contact City staff to verify that there were two easements along the front, and for further validation. Should the Commission decide to approve the variance, City staff also recommends the condition of no overhang across the established building line because of the established utility easements.

 

City staff and the applicant were available for questions.

 

Mr. Christiansen – Referring to Plight of the Owner, Test 6, you said that though the size, location, and configuration of the lot is not unique, the City recommends approval because the subsequent recordation of the plan coupled with the required setback poses as a unique circumstance beyond the control of the owner and how they should develop the property. Could you explain that better?

Mr. Linenschmidt – When the plat was recorded, the plat establishes a 10 foot front setback. From a recording standpoint, it is a legal document saying you can build up to that line. The Zoning Ordinance requires a greater setback, which was established after the recordation of the plat.

 

Mr. Christiansen asked for the applicant or owner of the property to come forward.

 

Dale Hardy, builder (200 Houston Avenue) – This subdivision was created about three to four months before zoning ordinances were adopted. The subdivision was designed around a concept of the paving of streets and then the utility easements. There are two 5-foot easements, and the backside of that is identified as the building line. The reinforcement of the easement lines can be done in the notation of the re-plat we are working on. It would be identified as a building line and easement. What we’re really trying to do is ask for permission instead of forgiveness. The structures out there are relatively narrow, but deep. I provided examples of three or four structures I’ve surveyed in the past, if you notice, must of them go all the way out to the 10-foot line. If you look at the older structures, you will find that they all go up to the 10-foot line. We want to preserve and maintain the character of the neighborhood, specifically in regards to the streetscape. We’re trying to secure the permission we need to use the 10-foot building line as it was originally prescribed.  

 

Mr. Christiansen – Typically when we see these types of cases, where the builder or home owner has requested the builder to build a building that is larger than the lot can handle, they always want to hit the side setbacks and the front setbacks or go over them. It sounds the property owner wants to buy two lots and make them one. So, is the home owner attempting to build a house that is larger than what the lots will allow?

Mr. Hardy – No. I think they are trying to have their structure conform to the characteristics of the structures already there. Going to the 25-feet will cause his structure to be 15-feet further back than the most of the structures. If you drive down that street, there will be a gap in the frontage of that house. The goal isn’t to get the biggest house, but to get it to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.

 

Ms. Benoit – How many square feet is the lot with the two lots combined?

Mr. Linenschmidt – It’s approximately .32 acres, which is roughly 12,000 square feet.

 

Ms. Benoit – How big is the house?

Mr. Hardy – It has not been designed; so, I don’t have that information.

 

Larry Cunningham, applicant (Deerpark, TX) – There were several houses in the subdivision where they combined lots or had it replatted to make the lots larger, but all the houses were reasonably the same. We submitted floor plans and elevations of what our prosed house would be. The house is on one lot and the pool, garage, a guest quarter, and mostly yard on the other lot. We were trying to follow suit with what we’re doing. We bought two lots because two lots were available. The house is not any larger than the others.

 

Ms. Benoit – The house will not take up the entire lot?

Mr. Cunningham – No. There will be two garages in the back, a driveway, a pergola, an outdoor kitchen, and the house with a veranda. Then there will extra space between there and the guest quarters. All of it is on the lines of what’s already out there.

Ms. Benoit – My concern was that if built a house that was too big for two lots it would obscene for that neighborhood.

Mr. Cunningham – No it’s not. Down the street are three or four houses that have a lot and a half. By splitting the lot, they are able to get a yard or a pool.

 

Mr. Christiansen – To Mr. Hardy, in regards to test number 6, the issue can’t be caused by the homeowner, and we have to verify there is a hardship. The City stated that the setback creates a unique circumstance beyond the control of the owner in how to develop the property. You said the intent was to maintain the streetscape. Is that the hardship?

Mr. Hardy – One of the underlining reasons for zoning is to protect the characteristics of a community. There was already a pattern predicated to that plat and we are trying not to disrupt that pattern. The hardship not on the property owner, but is on keeping the characteristics of that street.

 

Mr. Christiansen – The hardship is due to the fact that if you don’t get the variance request, then your house would sit back further, upsetting the character of the neighborhood.  

Mr. Hardy – Yes.

 

Mr. Linenschmidt – While zoning does not dictate what the house is going to look like, it does dictate the character of how far the house is from the street and the neighboring properties or alley ways. The character, as far as the setbacks, was already set in the plat when it was recorded. When zoning came in it changed that character. When looking at what’s already there, we are just trying to connect the dots.

Mr. Christiansen – I understand, I’m just trying to pull out a hardship for this.

 

Ms. Benoit – On the map, looking at lot 2 and 3, the house on the corner has a 10 foot setback, this one has a 10 foot setback, the next one is 19 feet, and then the two lots and the next one is 10 foot. So everyone that wants to build on these vacant lots is going to have to come in for a variance? City Council has made these ordinances and we are supposed to uphold them; I don’t want to get into the situation where we’re saying no you don’t have to follow them this time.

Mr. Linenschmidt – If you look at the aerials, you’ll see that there are very few lots remaining in this area. Some of the areas are green space, which is part of the character we discussed earlier. The majority of the subdivision has already been constructed and in an existing nature.

 

Ms. Benoit – I’m looking for an answer to the hardship.

Mr. Hardy – A hardship would be that this property would not be able to be developed like the properties that have already gone in at 10 feet. So there would be 15 feet of buildable space there that is no longer available.

 

Mr. Hendershot – The neighboring house is 19 and a half, almost 20 feet from their building line, and has a curving streetscape. This house would need to be placed at another six feet from the front of the house. On the aerial, there is one that looks like it meets the 25 foot. I’m having trouble seeing the hardship here. There’s a little wiggle room here in saying that the explanation is that the neighborhood’s character is being maintained by pushing the building to the front of the site.

Mr. Cunningham – The house on the side that you mentioned is at a curve on the road, and the part that is further back is the one corner, but the rest of the house is in line with the house next door, which 10 foot. Part of the house is at 10 foot and part of it is on an angle. So, that one corner is further back, but they probably did that because of the way the lot is shaped. The lot was purchased based on the survey that showed the 10 foot plat. The value of the property is going to be a hardship because we can’t build what we need with a 25 foot setback. The lots were not designed to be built with a 25 foot setback; they were designed to be built with a 10 foot setback. We want to build in compliance with the other houses there. We closed on the property with that survey, which showed a 10 foot setback. There are relatively new structures that were built with a 10 foot setback and some were replatted with a 10 foot setback.

 

Mr. Hendershot – So you’re saying there are houses that have been built since the ordinance went into effect?

Mr. Cunningham – There are brand new houses there right now with a 10 foot setback.

 

Ms. Gann-Curry – When you bought the lot you weren’t aware of this?

Mr. Cunningham – No. The survey that came with my deed of trust is a 10 foot setback on both sides. We weren’t sure if we could combine the lots because of the possibilities of utilities in between the lots, but there is not.

 

Ms. Gann-Curry – Were you mislead in the purchasing?

Mr. Cunningham – I don’t think the previous owner knew anything about it or other people who own property in that subdivision.

 

Ms. Benoit – We had another variance come in, where you had to work with the size of the lot and we agreed that what he’s going to build would be according to the Comprehensive Plan and the Master Plan. Your alternative here could be to build two small houses with 25 foot setbacks on the two lots. Is that what the neighborhood would like to see? Is it better to have a larger lot and have it be at the 10 foot setback? It’s not a hardship, but it does meet the Spirit of the ordinance as far as what the neighborhood looks like.

Mr. Cunningham – Having to build two smaller houses on a 25 foot setback would definitely be a hardship for me. 15 foot loss on a narrow lot is a lot more than 15 foot and a wide lot. It was a plat that was approved at that time.

 

Mr. Linenschmidt – The plat did go through Zoning and Commission approval and was signed by John Wyckoff who was the current chairman at the time, as well as the interim City Planner. 

Ms. Benoit – But that was way back then.

 

Mr. Linenschmidt – The approval was in 1999, but that certification tells me that it met all the requirements the City had at the time, and thus recorded.

 

Mr. Hendershot – The problem is that the hardship is being claimed because of the 25 foot setback on a small lot, but you have two lots. That potentially alleviates some of the hardship caused by the setback. So the real hardship here is that in order to meet the essential characteristic of the neighborhood you would have to build to the 10 foot setback?

Mr. Hardy – We’re asking the Commission to look at the big picture of changing the streetscape and characteristic of the neighborhood. Nothing out there has been built at the 25 foot line, so we would immediately stick out. If zoning is here to protect the characteristics of a neighborhood, and assure health, safety, and welfare, we have met all of those requirements. The hardship would be that wasted land that is utilized on all the other lands.   

 

Mr. Christiansen opened the Public Hearing at 7:31 PM.    

 

Trent Keeble (729 Harborside Way) – I’m in favor of this. All the properties are at about the 10 foot mark, and building a 25 foot setback would disrupt the character of the neighborhood.

 

 Kelly Franco (Lot 15 and 16 of Harborside Way) – For me this would create a great problem because neither of my lots are square. You have a 25 foot setback on the back of your property for your garage and with the hammerhead and fence on my lot it’s going to cause a huge issue. I wouldn’t even be able to build the minimum square footage they ask us to build with the garage setback and a huge setback in the front. I’m attempting to design my house with the same look as the others, but with that huge setback, it would be impossible for that lot to be developed. This is the first time I heard of this. Dale did my survey too.

 

Mr. Christiansen closed the Public Hearing at 7:33 PM.

 

The Commissioners reviewed the Variance Findings and rendered the following decisions:

 

Test #1 – True: 4

            False: 0

 

Test #2 – True: 4

            False: 0

 

Test #3 – True: 4

            False: 0

 

Test #4 – True: 4

            False: 0

 

Test #5 – True: 4

            False: 0

 

Test #6 – True: 4

            False: 0

 

Test #7 – True: 4

            False: 0

 

Test #8 – True: 4

            False: 0

 

Ms. Gann-Curry motioned to approve the motion.

Ms. Benoit seconded the motion with the condition that the variance is only on Harborside Way, per Zoning Ordinance, with no overhang into the 10 foot easement.

The motion passed 4-0-0.

  

VI.              Public Hearings and Action Items from Public Hearings (BASC)

A.     Hold a public compliance hearing with possible action on BASC15-01 (311 Perkins Ave.), to determine whether a building or structure is a dangerous building, to show cause why the ordered action has not been completed and/or why civil penalties should not be assessed, and issue any order(s) determined necessary to address such conditions per 22-331 et. seq. of the League City Code of Ordinances on property located at 331 Perkins Avenue, League City, Texas 77573, legally described as Lots one (1) and two (2), Block one (1) of Merchant’s Addition Subdivision, a subdivision in League City, Galveston County, Texas, according to the map thereof recorded in Volume 238, Page 12 in the Office of the County Clerk of Galveston County, Texas, together with all improvements thereon.

 

OWNERS/LIENHOLDERS

Brent A. Lovett, 311 Perkins Avenue, League City, Texas 77573-2151

James A. and Beverly M. Lovett, P.O. Box 686, Port O’Connor, Texas 77982

Lisa G. Tolman, Trustee, 322 East Main Street, Suite 108, League City, Texas 77573

Sears, Roebuck & Co., 45 Congress Street, Salem, MA 01970

Sears, Roebuck & Co., c/o Jay Taylor, Jay A. Taylor, P.C., 3311 Richmond Avenue, Suite 307, Houston, Texas 77098

 

Kris Carpenter, Neighborhood Services Manager, presented for the City of League City.

 

The action is in regards to the mobile home located on Perkins Ave. The structure was dilapidated and deemed more than 50 percent damaged. An update was requested for this meeting. The owner, Mr. Lovett ordered a manufactured home to replace the damaged mobile home. The company stated they would remove the mobile home from the property. The manufacturer confirmed they would remove the structure by mid-August.

 

It is City’s recommendation that the Commission give until mid-August for the structure to be removed and for Staff to have the structure demolished if it is not removed by September 1.

 

City staff and the property owner were available for questions.

 

Brent Lovett, property owner, (311 Perkins Avenue) – The manufactured home should be ready this weekend. They said it takes roughly two weeks to deliver it to Houston and another week to get it here.

 

Ms. Gann-Curry – That’s really close to the September deadline.

Mr. Lovett - If everything goes good we should be done, but if it gets behind we may have to put it back a week or two. I’ve done all I can do.

 

Ms. Benoit – If we put a deadline on it and it rains? But it’s in the motions, it’s in the works.

Mr. Lovett – If it rains and I miss the deadline.

 

Mr. Hendershot – If the deadline is missed, I assume it would back before us as a compliance issue.

Mr. Carpenter – That would depend on your order tonight. Staff is recommending a final order, but the Commission gives the final order on whether it will be demolished or comes back to the next meeting.

 

Ms. Benoit – If it’s a compliance hearing, then we can see it again in September and know if there was an issue or not?

Richard Werbiskis, Assistant Planning Director – The recommendation is that we do set a deadline on this. The issue has dragged on longer than the City likes. The structure was deemed dilapidated.

 

The Commission reviewed the evidence and rendered the following:

 

Item D of Section III was marked that the owner has provided evidence of repairs and the addition time of September 1st.

 

The following orders were rendered:

 

Item #1 – N/A

Item #2 – N/A

Item #3 – N/A

Item #4 – N/A

Item #5 – Marked no later than September 1st.

Item #6 – Marked with demolition no later than September 1, 2015.

Item #7 – N/A

Item #8 – N/A

Item #9 – N/A

Item #10 –N/A

 

Item 1 of Section V was marked.

Item 1, 2, and 5 of Section VI were marked.

 

Mr. Hendershot motioned for this to be the final order.

Ms. Gann-Curry seconded the motion.

The motion passed 4-0-0.

 

B.      Hold a public compliance hearing with possible action on BASC15-02 (2806 Sugar Wood Drive), to determine whether a building or structure is a dangerous building, to show cause why the ordered action has not been completed and/or why civil penalties should not be assessed, and issue any order(s) determined necessary to address such conditions per 22-331 et. seq. of the League City Code of Ordinances on property located at 2806 Sugar Wood Drive, League City, Texas, 77573, legally described as Lot 60, Block 10, Meadow Bend, Section 2, a subdivision in League City, Galveston County, Texas, according to the map thereof recorded in Volume 15, Pages 18 and 19, in the Office of the County Clerk of Galveston County, Texas, together with all improvements thereon.

 

OWNERS/LIENHOLDERS/OTHER PARTIES

James and Regina Jackson, 2806 Sugar Wood Drive, League City, TX, 77573

Victor A. Strum, Law Office of Victor A. Sturm, P.C., 2420 South Grand Blvd. Pearland, TX, 77581

Albert E. Butler, 5353 West Alabama, Suite 515, Houston, TX, 77056

Harbour Insurance Services, LLC, 2800 Marina Bay Drive, Suite P, League City, TX, 77573

Houston Community Management Services, 17049 El Camino Real Suite 100, Houston, TX, 77058

Logos Investments, LLC., 2002 Sandy Lake Dr., Friendswood, TX, 77548

Orchid Underwriters Agency, Inc, 1201 19th Place, Suite A110, Vero Beach, FL. 32960

Randall B. Ashby, Waldron & Schneider, L.L.P., 15150 Middlebrook Drive, Houston, TX. 77058

 

Kris Carpenter, Neighborhood Services Manager, presented for the City of League City.

 

The Commissioners requested that the damaged structure be secured, a sign for no unauthorized entry be posted, the structure be repaired no later than August 6, 2015, a new meeting be scheduled on the current date, and the exterior of the building be secured from the elements or animals. The holes and widows on the west side were boarded. The front door was boarded up. The windows on the east side and rear were boarded up. The pool was covered and the back fence was repaired. Contractors also mowed the front and back yard.

 

City staff finds that the building is secured but will not be repaired.

 

Ms. Benoit – Is there no other recourse?

Mr. Carpenter – There other option is demolition. A contractor assessed the property and also came under the 50 percent assessment; specifically, he estimated the repairs at 63,000, which is under half the value of the house.

 

Ms. Benoit – Is there anyone taking responsibility of the house?

Mr. Carpenter – No. Frank, a staff member contacted the owners of the house and they were unaware of what was happening to the house.

 

Ms. Benoit –Is there no way to do fines?

Ms. Villarreal – We recently got information that ownership could have changed hands. If that’s the case, then we can do a title search and go after the current owner. We welcome any additional information.

 

Ms. Gann-Curry – I’m in the financial and insurance business and a colleague verified that the claim was paid to Logos Investments at the end of June. They are owners of the property.

Ms. Villarreal – We still want to do a title search because until they file a deed of record it’s still pending. If there’s a new owner we will focus our attention on them. Hopefully they will chose to demolish.

 

Ms. Gann-Curry - Maybe they will repair it and turn it into rental property.

Ms. Villarreal - If that doesn’t happen, the property may go into foreclosure and entrusted to a government entity, where the City will have more control over what happens to the property.

 

Ms. Benoit – I hate to see this taken off our agenda because if it does change owners would could have some rapport with the new owners and we could discuss with them repair and possible fines.

Ms. Villarreal – It will still be on our radar.

 

Mr. Christiansen – We also have a time constraint. We can’t continue things after 90 days.

Ms. Villarreal – We do have the avenue of being able to issue citations and other options.

 

Ms. Benoit – Does staff recommended we take this off?

Mr. Carpenter – We do recommend that it’s taken off because of the time restraints. We try to get in contact with the new owners.

 

Ms. Benoit – So, if we take it off we can bring it back if there’s a new owner?

Mr. Carpenter – Yes.

Mr. Christiansen opened the public hearing at 8:10 PM.

 

Randy Miller, 2805 Sugarwood Drive – So this is going to be handed to the new owner and we’re going to have to start this process all over again? We’re at six months now. Will it be another six months?

Mr. Christiansen – Once the City brings it before the Board, and we make our order, there’s a time constraint of 90 days. The City took care of a lot of complaints. The City will contact the new owners.

 

Mr. Miller - If the new owners took ownership in June, why did that take so long to come to light?

Mr. Christiansen - We had to give them time to comply with our conditions. If the new owner do not comply, it will be brought back to us?

 

Mr. Miller – What is the time restraint for the new owners?

Mr. Christiansen – Progress has been made, but it does take time.

 

Ms. Benoit – It could come back before the Board, but it gives the City more time to contact the new owners.  

 

Mr. Miller – We would prefer to see it torn down. I don’t want to see it dragged out, if the title company decides to sell the property.

Ms. Benoit – I agree, but City staff is on this and will get it resolved as soon as possible. It takes longer to demolish a house than to repair it.

 

Mr. Miller – I just want a timeframe.

Mr. Linenschmidt– We have passed the line of public hearing and into discussion.

 

The public hearing was closed at 8:17 PM.

 

Mr. Hendershot motioned to remove the item from the agenda.

Ms. Benoit seconded the motion.

The motion passed 4-0-0.

 

VII.           Adjournment

Ms. Benoit made a motion to adjourn.

 

Mr. Hendershot seconded the motion.

 

The motion passed unanimously with a vote of 4-0-0.

           

Mr. Christiansen adjourned the meeting at 8:18 PM.

 

CERTIFICATE

THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE NOTICE OF MEETING WAS POSTED ON THE BULLETIN BOARD AT CITY HALL OF THE CITY OF LEAGUE CITY, TEXAS, BY THE 31st DAY OF JULY, 2015 BY 6 PM, AND WAS POSTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH CHAPTER 551, LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE (THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT).  ITEMS POSTED IN THE OPEN SESSION PORTIONS OF THIS AGENDA MAY ALSO BE DISCUSSED IN CLOSED OR EXECUTIVE SESSION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT. THE BOARD RESERVES THE RIGHT TO HEAR ANY OF THE ABOVE DESCRIBED AGENDA ITEMS THAT QUALIFY FOR AN EXECUTIVE SESSION, IN AN EXECUTIVE SESSION BY PUBLICLY ANNOUNCING THE APPLICABLE SECTION NUMBER OF THE OPEN MEETINGS ACT, (CHAPTER 551 OF THE TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE, SPECIFICALLY INCLUDING CHAPTER 551.071 “CONSULTATION WITH ATTORNEY”), THAT JUSTIFIES EXECUTIVE SESSION TREATMENT.

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE PRESENCE OF A QUORUM OF THE MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL AT ANY TIME DURING THE COURSE OF THE ABOVE-REFERENCED PROCEEDING MAY CONSTITUTE A MEETING OF CITY COUNCIL PURSUANT TO THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT, CHAPTER 551 OF THE TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE.  BY THIS NOTICE, THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY ADVISED OF SAID MEETING NOT LESS THAN 72 HOURS IN ADVANCE OF THE DATE, TIME AND LOCATION NOTED ABOVE.

 

 

___________________________________                   ______________________________

Richard Werbiskis                                                        James R. Christiansen,

Assistant Director of Planning & Development              Chairperson, Zoning Board of Adjustment/       

                                                                                    Building and Standards Commission