Council considers appeal for home
FRISCO – Frisco Town Council on Tuesday will consider an appeal of a Planning Commission decision regarding the construction of a 1,500-square-foot, single family house in the Ten Mile Park Subdivision that neighbors say is a “mini castle.”
Michael and Amy Wolach are appealing a development application by Gary Moss and Donna Skupien to build a single-family unit at 333 Emily Lane.
The Wolachs first filed an objection in January when Moss and Skupien applied for a variance extension because the 1998 variance reducing the 15-foot water quality setback from wetlands expired Jan. 19.
“I was hoping that perhaps they would not get to build if they didn’t receive their variance extension,” said Amy Wolach, who lives directly east of the proposed construction.
Wolach said she was concerned excavation associated with the new construction would change underground water flow and flood neighboring basements, but she based her appeal on technicalities related first to variances then on architectural design rather than water flow concerns.
The issue became increasingly ensnared when town staff failed to notify surrounding homeowners of a June 20 hearing in time, so the planning commission voted to table the discussion until July 18.
In the meantime, an ordinance, which created architectural goals, standards and incentives for all residential zone districts, including Moss and Skupien’s property, became effective July 9.
On July 18, the commission moved to approve the variance extension application, which would have ended the Wolachs’ basis to object, but the July 9 resolution gave the Wolachs and other neighbors more reasons to oppose the new construction. The commission tabled the Wolach’s objection application to assess if the development application conformed with the new ordinance.
The commission concluded Moss and Skupien’s proposed residence generally conformed to the standards of the new ordinance – overturning the Wolachs’ objection application and approving the development application by a vote of 4-1 (Cathy Cunningham opposed) Aug. 1. That’s when the Wolachs appealed the planning commission’s decision based not on variances this time, but upon architectural design.
“I want the town council to make them adhere to standards 1.2 and 2.2 (of the new ordinance),” Amy Wolach said. “If they (make them adhere), these homeowners will have to scale the house down. It’s not our problem because they bought on wetlands.”
Both standards have to do with architectural character. One concerns such elements as eaves, roof overhangs and covered porches, and the other has to do with the bulk plane envelope.
Though the proposed residence includes 12-inch eaves, it does not include roof overhangs, covered porches or decks.
“Rather than a must, it’s one of those things that’s desirable,” said Bill Climo, who sits on the planning commission. “It’s not one of those things that are required to be met.”
According to records, the commission did not make a finding specific to this standard, but overall, it recommended the council deny the appeal application and uphold the planning commission decision to approve the development application.
The Wolachs’ second argument for appeal involved the bulk plane envelope, which the proposed residence projects beyond by 850 cubic feet (approximately 10- by 9- by 10-feet).
“It has this feeling of mass,” Amy Wolach said. “It gives me the feeling of a mini castle.”
However, the commission determined substantial architectural elements relieved the feeling of mass, meeting standard 2.2.
If the council approves the appeal application, Moss and Skupien would have to conform with standards by scaling down the proposed 1,500-square foot house to possibly 1,000 square feet, Amy Wolach said, drawing on figures planning commissioner Gary Runkle stated at the July 18 meeting.
“This is the first time the planning commission has a chance to adhere to (the standards of the new resolution), and they did not,” Amy Wolach said.
“They did in part, but I think they should have homeowners adhere to all (standards) of the ordinance. I’ve come down the road with this, and now I’ve seen the unfairness.”
Moss and Skupien wrote a letter to council Aug. 27 stating had it not been for the delay in June hearing, the planning commission would have approved the proposed residence before new architectural standards went into effect.
“The original decisions by the planning commission and town council had given approval for the design to be somewhat massive, if you would,” Climo said. “(Moss and Skupien) put a design together that sort of went along with it. We were looking at the overall design of the structure, and it had architectural relief that provided for the 2.2 standard.”
The planning commission has the power to approve structures that project beyond the bulk plane, regardless by how many cubic feet they exceed, whereas the community development staff may consider only cases where the projections do not exceed 350 cubic feet, Climo said.
“I’ll let town council have the final say,” Amy Wolach said.
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