Nolensville Board of Zoning Appeals
Nolensville Town Hall
July 31, 2017 7:00 p.m.
Members Present: Tommy Dugger, Joan Lawler, Arthur Gay, Wade Wakefield and Mike Donaho
Members Absent: None
Staff Present: Attorney Bob Notestine, Town Planner Sarah Sitterle, Codes Assistant Cristin Webb
1. CALL MEETING TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 6:59 p.m. by Chairperson Joan Lawler.
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Chairperson Joan Lawler led the pledge of allegiance.
3. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Tommy Dugger moved to approve minutes from the 7/13/17 BZA meeting making sure that they reflected the motion to have a special meeting to further discuss the possible porte-cochere structures in Telfair. It was seconded by Mike Donoho. The motion passed unanimously.
No announcements were made.
5. NEW BUSINESS
Joan Lawler asked for any announcements. Since there were no announcements she stated that the purpose of this special meeting was to address the original request which was to construct ten or twelve houses with the porte-cochere arrangement. Joan Lawler added that since this arrangement does not have a common roof or floor attached to the home it therefore becomes an accessory building. Ordinance 2.2.2. F applies in this case and all accessory structures must be in the rear or the side yard. She stated that at issue that evening is whether or not this variance request right now exceeds the powers and duties of the BZA.
Bob Notestine spoke and said that it may not hurt for clarification purposes to speak to what exactly are the developers asking for this evening. He mentioned having the revised drawing in front of him with an asterisk by the lots and asked if this was the subject being dealt with this evening.
Christopher Smith the developer of Telfair came to the podium and described the purpose for the request. He noted that they were trying to find something interesting that provided improvement to the street scape. The builder that has that feature is Celebration and he asked people to look at the exhibit in front of them with the asterisks on it.
Bob Notestine explained the need to clarify what was being established for this particular meeting. The committee usually looks for reasons for the variance as well as hardships. He pointed out that it seemed at the last meeting the developers wanted to look at a variance for the whole subdivision and pointed out that the BZA cannot do that because it is beyond the scope of what a BZA can do. He pointed out that he had not seen a request asking for particular lots, but noted that if the applicant was asking for the Board to look at one lot and approve it then that is normally what is before the BZA but one must meet the hardship clause.
Michael Katsaitis came to the podium and said that he preferred the committee just focus on Lot 94. He noted that Lot 102 was in that overall scheme of streetscaping and that they had identified it as another possible location for a porte-cochere.
Joan Lawler pointed out that when the committee gathered on the 13th the gentlemen were asking for ten or thirteen houses to have this feature. She asked what was significant about the lot that may possibly have the porte-cochere and wondered if it was a hardship. It appears to be the same as all the others.
Michael Katsaitis said that this lot is a typical lot and these are the first four lots that developers originally wanted to build. The original goal was to build the porte-cochere in the first four homes being built.
Joan Lawler further clarified by asking Michael Katsaitis if he was asking for only Lot 94.
Michael Katsaitis said that yes they are only asking for approval of Lot 94.
Bob Notestine pointed out that they may come back to ask for other lots to be approved for this feature.
Michael Katsaitis said that the market may tell them that people do not like this feature and it may not sell.
Bob asked if this is home was being built on a trial basis. Michael Katsaitis indicated that it was a test build.
Arthur Gay said he looked at Lot 94 which is a quarter acre lot. He asked what the price point will be for the home on this lot.
Michael Katsaitis said this home will cost closer to the high fives perhaps - five eighty, or six hundred thousand.
Arthur Gay pointed out that he was on vacation with family and was absent from the July 13th meeting. He had in the past seen this plan on many homes that are million dollar plus homes but not on a home on a quarter acre lot.
Michael asked if the drawing in front of the committee members has the elevation.
Arthur asked if this is the Brookmeade.
Michael Katsaitis said yes. He told the committee that he has a similar home in Lockwood Glen and he had photographs. This home was also on a quarter acre lot. Michael approached the podium to show pictures. He pointed out that with that particular building you drive through the lot to the two car garage in the back hidden through the porte-cochere. With Lockwood Glen they did it as a three car garage. At Telfair it will be marketed as a Flex Room, which could include a hobby room or for storage, or a wood shop or an art studio.
Arthur asked Bob if we have established that our Board can make a decision on this tonight.
Bob answered that the board had the ability to grant a request for a variance and was a semi-judicial body. He explained that the drawing did not comply with the ordinance but if the developers were able to show hardships that justify approval then it may be done if they were asking about one lot. To grant more than one lot takes up the Planning Commission and BOMA. The BZA can grant variances on properties if they think the hardships merit it. One of the hardships might be the size of the lot compared with the project but one has to be careful. One of the hardships is that it should not be harmful to the public and then there is another one that the issue should not be self-created.
Tommy Dugger mentioned that one of the issues that gave the committee heartburn at the last meeting was item on Page 2 part D because they were asking for ten or eleven lots which is not detrimental to public welfare. But the next part of the language said it will not substantially impair the intent and purpose of the zoning ordinance. He added that he liked the plan because it hid the garage but that asking for more than one was not possible.
Michael Katsaitis pointed out that he had examples of the porte-cocheres in Annandale, Westhaven and some other developments. He said that no other builder in Middle Tennessee would put a porte-cochere on such a small lot because it is usually a feature of a million dollar plus home.
Joan Lawler added that she also liked the look of the home but had hesitation regarding the hardship issue because that lot does not look any different than any other lot.
Michael agreed that there is no difference but that the developers are simply trying to add variety to their product line and hide the garage.
Michael Donoho asked if these other designs and examples in photographs in the other neighborhoods were admitted by code or allowed variances when they were constructed.
Michael Katsaitis said they are admitted by code. No variance was necessary in those cases in other neighborhoods.
Bob Notestine clarified that sometimes BZA people will say if it is not permitted by the code then a variance may not be granted. That is not necessarily true. The purpose of the zoning appeal is to consider variance requests that are different from the code. If one or more of the hardships exist then we have the right to consider the request.
Michael Katsaitis said that he could make the homes meet zoning ordinances by finishing the attached porte-cochere by adding a second floor. However, increasing the size of the home would not be efficient for this product line. He added that the committee could debate the definition of a wall as another possible solution. He asked if there was an opening on that wall would it meet the definition of a wall.
Bob Notestine added that in the past the committee has never liked front load garages.
Mike Donoho pointed out that he purchased his home because it has a rear facing garage.
Arthur Gay asked if this is an all brick home and Michael Katsaitis answered that no it is a farm house look with siding.
Tommy Dugger asked if the garages in the back are attached to the house and Michael answered yes. Tommy Dugger noted that there were visitors in the audience and Joan Lawler asked if the visitors had any comments to add.
Brian Snyder came to the podium and said that this plan adds diversity to the product line. Brian Snyder lives in Bent Creek where the homes are all very similar. He added that there are different ways to do the shrubbery and faces of the homes. He added that he liked the unique flair these homes have. Bryan Snyder said that when he saw the pictures presented he thought they looked like the new homes being renovated in East Nashville area. From a price point those homes have been successful. Brian Snyder said he liked the homes that the developer presented this evening.
Jason Patrick came to the podium and said that the BZA is not really the proper forum to address these issues. He visited the homes in Lockwood but does not see a hardship in this case. Jason Patrick said he liked the look of the homes and would personally like to allow for this to happen but is not sure the BZA was the proper forum.
Arthur Gay asked if the proposed home on Lot 94 has siding or Hardiplank.
Michael Katsaitis answered yes.
Arthur Gay agreed that the south side of the new school campus does need diversity. He said he wanted home values to consistently remain high and said that he sees this is one way to do it. He has seen homes in the past done with brick and stone and would hate to approve something that does not look good in five or ten years.
Christopher Smith came to the podium and said this is a great opportunity to add something to the sub market and that Nolensville should have an interest in modifying the code for the concept. He suggested that they build one and then the committee could critique it and give ideas about what they liked or did not like, almost like a case study. He said that this could be an opportunity to test the market.
Michael Katsaitis came to the podium and added that initially Celebration was planning to model this home but after the last meeting on July 13th, Celebration decided to withdraw the plans to model this home. He explained that the porte-cochere will longer be the feature of the subdivision. Instead the model home will be a farm house with side entry.
Wade Wakefield added that he likes the design but cannot find the hardship. He asked Bob what committee this should be kicked back to.
Bob Notestine said it should go back to BOMA and it takes three to four months.
Mike Katsaitis said this would be a hardship for them because they do not have time to wait to get started on Lot 94.
Mayor James Alexander came to the podium to ask if any of the examples are on seventy foot lots.
Mike Donoho asked about the building envelope and the lot size.
Mayor James Alexander said there is not a hardship in this case. Therefore it is necessary to go through the proper process outside the BZA and add the right language, in the right way.
Tommy Dugger pointed out that the committee could use article D to grant permission to build one home and not grant any more than one. He supported granting one home because he did not see any harm to the ordinance by granting permission for one home.
Michael Katsaitis said he was looking for approval of Lot 94 and then he may go through the proper channels to get a sponsor.
Christopher Smith said he will need help and guidance with that process.
Wade Wakefield asked if Celebration would have to come back each time they wanted to create a porte-cochere.
Bob answers that yes each time they wanted to build this they would have to come back to the BZA.
Michael Katsaitis said that if they were granted this variance then tomorrow they would look for a sponsor to work the amended language through the system.
Jason Patrick asked for the language to be read aloud. Tommy Dugger read the clauses in question again.
Bob Notestine pointed out that traditionally BZA does not have to meet every one of the standards but it must meet at least one of them.
Joan Lawler asked if Tommy Dugger wanted to frame a motion around his comments.
Arthur Gay asked Jason Patrick to explain why he wanted item number D read. Jason Patrick answered that the main reason he wanted the language read is because he liked the idea of diversity in housing products here in Nolensville. Jason wanted to see if the language would allow for one home with the porte-cochere feature to be built. He said he wanted to get away from sameness in the new developments. He liked the idea of garages in the back. He said he understood the time crunch in a for profit business. He said that he was hopeful there would be a way to allow for Celebration to build one home with the porte-cochere feature.
Mayor Jimmy Alexander came to the podium again and suggested that the BZA was not really the place for this discussion. He suggested going through a proper process and asking for a text amendment. He explained that the BZA is not set up for allowing for an experimental type home to be built seeing if it works. He said that the committee was getting the cart before the horse and that it really should go through the right process with a sponsor offering a text amendment.
Bob Notestine explained that the variance process involves a determination, usually by the staff that the request does not comply with the zoning ordinance. So the reason you have the BZA is consider an appeal or a request to the board of appeals or a change to the zoning ordinance. The idea is to make a case by case determination based on hardship. The board must plan up or down. He said that the group must dispose of it tonight by looking at the hardship standards. No hardship then no legal basis to approve it. The committee is acting as a semi judicial body. BZA is not set up to hear a variance on every lot. Bob Notestine said he agreed with Mayor Jimmy Alexander that the real way to effect change is to change the zoning ordinance.
Tommy Dugger asked is there any harm to the public welfare with this design and may we grant one variance. He asked if that substantially impaired the intent. He said he did not think so. Tommy Dugger made a motion to grant a variance for lot 94 only because there is not harm to the public welfare.
Joan Lawler asked about next steps and Bob Notestine explained that the committee only votes on what is before them.
Arthur Gay asked if committee is hindering the process for another board and Bob Notestine said no.
Bob Notestine said that BOMA’s passage of a zoning ordinance does not hang on what this committee does. Bob Notestine explained that if a BZA decision is appealed it goes to Court, not to BOMA.
Joan Lawler asked Tommy Dugger to restate his motion.
Tommy Dugger moved to approve the variance request for Lot 94 since there was no harm to public welfare and the variance did not impair the intent of the ordinance.
Then Arthur Gay seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. Arthur Gay said for the builders to make it great.
Bob Notestine suggested that when Arthur Gay said this he is hinting that the developers not come back for another variance.
Michael Katsaitis says he will not return with another variance request.
6. OTHER BUSINESS
Since there was no other business Joan Lawler asked about adjournment. Tommy made a motion for adjournment and Wade Wakefield seconded the motion.
The meeting adjourned at 7:38 PM.