Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I know I have been an absentee blogger, bad Jim!

Many things have been happening that have required my time and attention.

One of those things is my on-going attempt to make improvements to my house and yard, and the Lake Board resistance.

The later skirmish has been about installing a gazebo on the west side of my house, on the vacant lot that I own. I obtained the building permit from the City and then submitted an application for an 'unattached building' variance to the Lake Board building committee. This application had to subsequently go to the full Board for a vote.

What follows is the rapid exchange of emails that took place yesterday. AAAAA is the president of the Lake Board, MMMM is the head of the building committee, XXXXX is a member of the building committee (who shares a street address and phone number with the Lake Board president, they have different last names so I don't know if they are married or not). Specific neighbor lives next door. Jim is, well, me. The comments I added to the emails for my attorney are in brackets. Enjoy:

Annotated Emails from 1/30/2007

Subject: gazebo

From: Jim

Date: 11:42 AM

To: AAAAA

AAAAAA -- did the Board vote on my gazebo permit, I have not heard back from MMMMM -- Thanks -- Jim

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From: AAAAA

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:08 PM

To: XXXXX, Jim

Subject: FW: gazebo

AAAAA -- did the Board vote on my gazebo permit, I have not heard back from MMMMM -- Thanks -- Jim

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From: XXXXX

Date: 3:36 PM

To: Jim, xxx

Cc: xxxxx, xxx

xx, xxx wrote:

Jim - MMMMM brought your request to the Board last night. Your request for a variance to allow for installation of the gazebo was denied. Board members recalled several other variance requests denied in the past for similar structures. The majority of Board members feel strongly that it is important to avoid the president [sic] for issuing variances unless there is strong compelling reason to do so.

Please let me know if there is anything else we can help you with!

XXXXX

Executive Vice President

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Inc.

xxxxxxxx

St. Louis, MO 63103

xxxxxxx

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From: Jim

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:57 PM

To: XXXXX

Subject: Re: gazebo

The by-laws require that the Board maintain a permanent file of actions regarding building requests. Please let me know where that file is kept and how I obtain access to it.

The criteria in the by-lays are:

one unattached building per lot.

one level.

square foot min and max.

distance from property lines.

construction materials.

Please refer me to the provision in the by-laws upon which the Board relied, as I can find no provision related to "compelling reason" or to broad Board discretion. Also please include the name and address of the Board's registered agent as required by the Illinois General Not for Profit Act.

Jim

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From: XXXXX

Date: 4:11 PM

To: Jim, xxxxxx

Cc: xxxxxx, xxxxxxxx

XXXXX wrote:

Please see provision 18 of the restrictions. AAAAA is the registered agent.

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From: Jim

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:19 PM

To: XXXXX

Subject: Re: gazebo

The criteria that is listed are from 18, there is no provision in 18 for addition criteria to be considered by the Board.

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From: XXXXX

Date: 4:22 PM

To: Jim

XXXXX wrote:

Jim - I am at work but I believe there is language in 18 that says no unattached buildings are allowed in rear yards that are attached to the lake.

[NOTE: The restriction says "...in the back yard of any dwelling adjoining the lake."]

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From: Jim

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:32 PM

To: XXXXX

Subject: Re: gazebo

it's not in the rear of the house, it's in the side yard of a VACANT LOT

[NOTE: This awkward response was the result of result of my quick editing of my reply, deleting portions arising from (1) my exasperation that the "reason" for the decline of the request had now changed (2) plus my even greater exasperation from the fact that XXXX as a member of the building committee was here for the site inspection. She could see that the proposed gazebo was going to be on the vacant lot next to my house and not in any sense between the lake and the house or even past the house on the lot on which the house sits -- and she was told at that time that I used the back wall of the house to determine the center point of the gazebo so it would balance the east wing of the house which extends ten feet past the west corner. It is also very important to note that my application for the variance refers to building a gazebo “on the vacant lot next to my home.” Likewise, the required site plan included with the request shows the gazebo on the vacant lot with the lot line clearly prominent. If this was a problem, there was over a month in which I could have simply moved the proposed site back four feet had I been so informed. (The original proposal, which was used for the site inspection, was for a 12 foot gazebo, placing six feet past the edge of the house on the adjoining lot. I realized after the site inspection that the 12-foot model had too many square feet according to the Restrictions and on my on initiative submitted a modified proposal for the 8-foot model.) It is unclear why, if this protrusion past the house was in fact a problem, the permit could not have been conditionally approved]

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From: XXXXX

Date: 4:52 PM

To: Jim

XXXXX wrote:

I don't think it can be a side yard (side yard to what?) and a vacant lot at the same time. It is a lot contiguous to your dwelling and I believe the proposed structure location crosses the line that would be created by extending the line of the rear wall of your house. Jim, you cannot imagine the grief the Board takes on these matters. I would be happy to have the Board attorney review this situation. I also think it would benefit you to get letters from affected neighbors i.e. [specific neighbor] and the owner(s) across the street from you indicating they would approve your plan.

[NOTE: I regret any grief caused to the Board but I am at a complete loss to figure out how I could have so caused any. I followed the rules and the provision of the Restrictions precisely and corrected my proposal when I realized that it exceeded one of the stated criteria.]

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From: Jim

Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 5:09 PM

To: XXXXX

Subject: Re: gazebo

so the Board would approve the gazebo if I have a letter from specific neighbor?

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From: XXXXX

Date: 5:14 PM

To: Jim

No-I am saying that it would be more convincing if your surrounding neighbors including the family across the street whose view of the lake will be impaired by the construction of a gazebo at the location you have proposed have no objections.

[The homes of both neighbors in question are waterfront; they are in no way dependent upon my lot for their views of the lake. In the case of the person named, his view can only be described as panoramic not even taking into account what part of the lake he might see across my property. The proposed gazebo would be eight feet wide on a lot that is 110 feet wide. The phrase “more convincing” seems incredibly ambiguous given the exchange to this point has been about “strong compelling reasons” and keeping the gazebo out of a backyard.]

[NOTE: Requiring a "strong compelling reason" is simply not supported by any provision in the Restrictions. Moving the gazebo back four feet so that no part of it extends past the edge of the house, would not create a "strong compelling reason" -- physically moving a gazebo a few feet does not provide it with a compelling reason for existing. To even suggest that is illogical. The same is even truer of the very notion of requiring letters from the neighbors. There exists no provision at any place in the Restrictions that even suggests that such a thing be required of a land owner nor is there any right given to unobstructed views of the lake (except for shrubs on parkway). Likewise, neither the neutrality, advocacy, nor objections of any neighbor would in any way, conceptually, logically, or legally, create the elusive "strong compelling reason" which the Board seemingly capriciously requires.]


3 comments:

:P fuzzbox said...

Sounds like X needs to pull a stick out of his ass.

moni said...

OK Jim, obviously, these people don't get it. Find a picture of a pretty gazebo, with flowers hanging, etc.., and send it along to the board and a few neighbors with a note: I plan to build this on my vacant lot next to my house, pretty, huh???

Jim said...

fuzz -- "her a$$"

Moni -- I'll do a post about you suggestion