HI Planning Commission confronts two-lot building requests

Friday, October 12, 2012

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- The Holiday Island Planning Commission (HIPC) is in the process of developing a resolution that will require garages built on a property owner's adjoining lot to share a common wall with the house built on the other lot.

Recently the commission has had two requests for garages on adjoining lots.

In July, an initial request by builder Ralph Lemme to build a garage on an adjoining lot at 11 LaQuinta Loop was denied. The commission said the garage had to be tied to the house. In August, the request was granted and a permit issued when Lemme produced new plans showing the two structures joined with a common roof line.

At the commission's Oct. 5 meeting, property owner Steve Gordon discussed his request to build a garage on his adjoining lot across from his house at 180 Holiday Island Drive.

Chairman Myrna Peterson had told him by phone it would not be allowed.

"It's been a rule here forever," she said at the meeting. "We're in the process a developing a resolution to state that."

"It's not unique to here," said Commissioner Corky Comstock. "Wherever you go, it's like that."

The Planning Commission has insisted on this requirement since 2005, when commissioners and the building inspector at that time allowed a large metal storage building/garage to be built on a separate lot from the house on Deer Run Drive. The action resulted in a storm of protest from numerous property owners.

The issue also hinges on the commission's attempt to prevent problems associated with a property owner selling two lots separately when one has only a garage on it in units zoned for residences.

Gordon said he wants to build a garage to house two boats, and to do as the commission requests would require him to cut down a large hickory tree and destroy $500' worth of landscaping. He said his garage is costly already and would cost even more to move it over.

He was encouraged to return with a new plan.

Building inspector Morris Dillow said after the first of the year the state will begin enforcing a new rule that internal remodeling work costing more than $2,000 must be done by a licensed contractor. Last year the state changed its licensing requirement on external remodeling work costing more than $20,000 to $2,000.

Property owner David Blackford, attending the meeting, asked under what authority Dillow would enforce violations of the new rulings. Dillow replied he is licensed by the state as a building inspector. He said that even though the Planning Commission pays his salary (which comes from permit fees for construction, remodels, mechanical work and inspections), if he finds a violation of state code, he can call the state to send a representative here.

But his first action is to bring it to the attention of HIPC.

"We make an attempt to abide by state code," Peterson confirmed. "He comes to us first. But we've not had a case where we've had to call the state."

"It places you in a delicate position," Blackford said to commissioners.

There has been some question in the past whether the Planning Commission, as well as the suburban improvement district, have "police powers" of enforcement. Attorney Generals' opinions have indicated the SID has no such authority, and in a court case several years ago, Brown vs. HIPC, the judge could not trace the authority of HIPC to do so.

"(Enforcement) is not on us because (property owners) don't have to have a permit for an inside remodel," said Nile Carrothers.

But that may change, said Peterson by phone later.

The commission will have to discuss requiring such a permit, and they need to research the definition of "remodel."

"I hope it doesn't mean if you paint your walls and it costs more than $2,000," she said.

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