CITY OF RANCHO PALOS VERDES
PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
AUGUST 24, 2004
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chairman Mueller at 7:00 p.m. at the Fred Hesse Community Room, 29301 Hawthorne Boulevard.
Commissioner Tetreault led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Present: Commissioners Gerstner, Karp, Knight, Tetreault, and Chairman Mueller. Vice Chair Cote arrived at 8:15 p.m.
(Commissioner Van Wagner resigned effective August 23, 2004).
Also present were Director of Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Rojas, Senior Planner, Associate Planner Blumenthal, Associate Planner Schonborn, and Assistant Planner Yu.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
The agenda was approved as presented, without objection.
Director/Secretary Rojas distributed one item of correspondence for Agenda Item No. 4, one item for Agenda Item No. 5. He stated that staff had received late correspondence which would not be distributed. He reported that the appeal of the Commission’s decision on the Rockinghorse Road project is scheduled to be heard at the November 2nd City council meeting and the appeal of the Springcreek Drive project is scheduled for September 7th.
Director/Secretary Rojas reported that Commissioner Van Wagner has submitted a letter of resignation from the Planning Commission, effective August 23, 2004.
COMMENTS FROM THE AUDIENCE (regarding non-Agenda items)
1. Neighborhood Compatibility Code Amendment (Case No. ZON2004-00331)
Commissioner Tetreault moved to approve the consent calendar thereby adopting P.C. Resolution No. 2004-33, forwarding the approved Neighborhood Compatibility Code Amendment to the City Council, seconded by Commissioner Knight. Approved, (5-0).
2. Height Variation Permit/Minor Exception Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00164): 5416 Littlebow Road
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and the need for the Height Variation and the Minor Exception Permit. He explained that staff had received comments from two of the neighboring residents regarding possible view impairment caused by the proposed structure. He explained that because trees on the property already blocked the view from 26616 Shorewood Drive, the Height Variation Guidelines state the view is not to be taken into consideration. He discussed the view from 26630 Shorewood Drive, noting there would be some impairment of the view caused by the proposed addition, however staff felt that due to the extent of the entire view, the proposed addition would not cause significant view impairment. Further, staff did not feel the proposed project would not contribute to a cumulative view impairment and has been designed to minimize view impairment. He discussed privacy issues, and noted that staff was recommending the windows on the south side of the project be clearstory or translucent windows to mitigate the privacy issues. Regarding the Minor Exception Permit, he stated that staff did feel there was a practical difficulty that warrants the approval of the Minor Exception Permit. Therefore, staff was recommending the Planning Commission approve the Height Variation and Minor Exception Permit, subject to the recommended conditions of approval.
Commissioner Knight asked about the window in the middle bedroom, and asked if staff felt it also created a privacy impact.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that staff felt this window does not have a privacy impact, however if the Planning Commission disagrees, staff would recommend the Planning Commission modify the conditions of approval to have the window be translucent glass. He noted that window must remain a full-size window for emergency egress from the bedroom.
Commissioner Knight asked staff if they had reviewed other design options with the applicant to avoid the setback that caused the need for the Minor Exception Permit.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that the current design is the only one that staff has seen.
Chairman Mueller asked staff if they informed the owners of the property with the view impairment caused by the trees that because of the trees, staff could not consider view impairment caused by the proposed addition, and if the foliage were trimmed staff could then consider that view in their analysis.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that staff met with the property owner when doing the view analysis and spoke to the owner at that time. He stated that staff informed the owner that if he wanted to trim the trees staff would come back to the property and perform another view analysis.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
David Sun 5416 Littlebow Road (applicant) stated that this addition was needed to accommodate his growing family. He explained that he had considered expanding out rather than up, however he noted that his lot is quite small relative to the neighborhood, and expanding out would severely limit the size of his yard. He explained that the current design was thought out over several years and was the best design option for the property. He explained that he was proposing to expand into the garage to offer balance to the front façade and to give direct access into the house. He showed a design alternative that he had considered, noting that there would be neighborhood compatibility issues with the alternative design. He showed several slides of the proposed addition and explained the proposed addition to the Planning Commission. He stated that he agreed with the staff recommendation to change the windows to clearstory and translucent if the Planning Commission feels it is appropriate.
Commissioner Knight asked Mr. Sun if he had considered taking the garage back to the original position, without the five-foot encroachment, and reducing the upstairs bedroom to a slightly smaller size.
Mr. Sun answered that he had considered that option, however in doing so he would lose two bedrooms downstairs rather than one and the layout of the lower floor would not be logical or convenient.
Ron Keyes 5424 Littlebow Road requested that the bedroom windows required for emergency egress be frosted, as they will be looking directly into his pool area. He noted that in the middle of the summer, the proposed addition would cast a shadow over the pool in the morning.
Mr. Sun (in rebuttal) stated that he was willing to frost the windows requested by Mr. Keyes.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Chairman Mueller asked staff to display the pictures of the view analysis and explain how they reached their findings.
Associate Planner Blumenthal displayed the slides taken from the neighboring properties, pointing out the silhouette. He noted that the foliage shown in the photo obscuring the view of the silhouette was on the neighbor’s property.
Chairman Mueller asked staff to explain the justification for the need for the Minor Exception Permit.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that staff felt the Minor Exception Permit was necessary to do the addition and provide the code required garage access, and to make the front of the home more compatible with the neighborhood.
Commissioner Gerstner noted that this lot is less than 8,000 square feet, and 8,000 square feet is the bottom edge of R-5 zoning. He felt that any lot less than 8,000 square feet has some certain hardships in regards to setbacks. Therefore, he feels more comfortable approving a Minor Exception Permit on a lot that is less than 8,000 square feet.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he was concerned about the neighboring property that has the trees blocking the view. He stated that it was his understanding that the property was being leased and questioned whether the owner had control of trimming those trees. He felt, however, that the silhouette appears to have a minimal intrusion on any view that might be impacted by the construction. He stated that he could make the necessary findings to approve the project. He noted that wording should be changed in the Resolution to reflect the appeal period being 15 days from today’s date.
Commissioner Knight stated that he still has a problem with the Minor Exception Permit. He agreed with Commissioner Gerstner’s comments, however he felt that other options should be explored. He felt that there was the possibility to reduce the size of the bedroom upstairs by five feet, which would result in a nice size bedroom and keep the articulation and symmetry of the roofline when looking from the street. He felt this would also reduce the appearance of the house from the street.
Chairman Mueller stated that his initial concerns were centered around the Minor Exception Permit and making sure the neighbors were informed of the view analysis and the foliage on their property. He was convinced that staff had taken the proper steps to inform the neighbors of the view analysis and their trees. Regarding the Minor Exception Permit, he shared some of Commissioner Knight’s concerns, however in exploring alternatives he was fairly satisfied with this design.
Commissioner Gerstner commented that pulling the garage back on the property would then create a garage that was not wide enough to be considered a two-car garage. If the garage were pulled back and have direct access from the street, the garage would then not be deep enough for a two-car garage without moving the back wall.
Commissioner Knight explained that his recommendation was to keep the current footprint of the garage, which is adequate, noting that the applicant was proposing to go five feet beyond the current footprint of the garage to make a larger bedroom above. He felt that the proposed bedroom could be reduced in size to fit over the existing garage. He explained that he felt that it was important to look at all of the options to avoid encroachment, if possible.
Commissioner Gerstner asked staff to review the changes proposed to the second story windows.
Associate Planner Blumenthal stated that the proposed modification to the Resolution would be that the window on the west wall in the center bedroom shall be translucent glass. He noted that the two windows at the back of the house which are to be translucent and clearstory are already included in the resolution. Further, the Resolution should reflect that the appeal period would be 15 days from today’s date.
Commissioner Gerstner moved to adopt P.C. Resolution 2004-34 thereby approving the Height Variation and Minor Exception Permit, as amended to include that the window on the west wall in the center bedroom shall be translucent glass and the wording for the appeal period be corrected, seconded by Commissioner Karp. Approved, (4-1) with Commissioner Knight dissenting.
3. Minor Exception Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00369): 4362 Exultant Drive
Assistant Planner Yu presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project and the request for the Minor Exception Permit. She stated that staff analyzed the proposed request and was of the opinion that a Minor Exception Permit is warranted by an unnecessary hardship. She explained that staff felt that requiring the applicant to remove two walls and foundation and relocate them back less than one foot would constitute an unnecessary hardship, since the cost of relocating the walls and foundation would be disproportional to the resulting appearance of the walls in relation to the property line. She stated that the front wall would have to be moved 0.7 feet and the side wall 0.3 feet, both of which staff feels would be insignificant modifications to the property and therefore unnecessary. Therefore staff was recommending approval of the Minor Exception Permit.
Chairman Mueller asked staff why more than 50 percent of the structure was removed during the remodel.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that it sometimes happens during a large remodel that more walls are removed during construction than originally anticipated because adverse conditions are encountered during the remodel construction.
Commissioner Knight was concerned about the procedure, as the applicant applied for this modification after he had removed more than 50 percent of the walls. He asked if there is a process by which the Planning or Building Department can check the progress of a project and if something is not complying with the plan a stop order can be issued until the issues are resolved.
Director/Secretary Rojas explained that the building inspectors are inspecting the projects and when something is noted that is not consistent with the plan it is brought to the Planning Department’s attention. He noted that in this situation the building inspector noted that more than 50 percent of the walls had been removed, put a stop work on the project, and instructed the owner to talk to the Planning Department.
There being no speakers, Chairman Mueller opened and closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Karp noted that the actual setback of the house from the curb line is over 30 feet however to the eye, the house is setback significantly further from the street than other houses on the street. He pointed out that the existing wall on the north side is already in the public right-of-way and should have been included in this application. He felt that this application should be approved.
Chairman Mueller agreed with staff’s comments and felt he could approve the Minor Exception Permit.
Commissioner Knight agreed that the request was minor. He noted that his main concern was to make sure the City is following a process by which, when a contractor deviates from approved plans, there is some red flag raised and it is caught early enough in the process.
Commissioner Knight moved to approve P.C. Resolution No. 2004-35, thereby approving the Minor Exception Permit as presented by staff, seconded by Commissioner Karp. Approved, (5-0).
4. Height Variation Permit/Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2004-00140): 3046 Crownview Drive
Vice Chair Cote arrived at 8:15 p.m.
Associate Planner Schonborn presented the staff report, explaining the scope of the project. He explained that staff received several letters of opposition from the neighbors concerning the size of the project, neighborhood compatibility, and concerns regarding view impairment. He stated that staff conducted site visits and view analysis from several of the neighboring properties, and showed slides from these residences. He stated that, while the proposed structure will be visible from these properties, the amount of view impairment is not significant. He discussed neighborhood compatibility, noting that the proposed structure is substantially larger than the range of sizes of the houses in the neighborhood, noting that the proposed home would be 3,500 square feet larger than the largest home in the neighborhood. Therefore, staff did not feel the project is not compatible with the immediate neighborhood. He concluded that staff was recommending denial of the project.
RECESS AND RECONVENE
At 8:30 p.m. the Planning Commission took a short recess until 8:40 p.m. at which time they reconvened.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (cont)
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that staff could not make the appropriate findings for neighborhood compatibility based on the size and mass of the structure. However, staff did not believe the grading was excessive. He noted that a neighbor had expressed concerns with the geology of the site, however he noted that geotechnical reports have been reviewed and approved by the City Geologist for this project.
Commissioner Knight asked staff to clarify the driveway access.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that the current driveway has an indirect access, while the proposed driveway will have a direct access, and the proposed retaining wall will accommodate the need for a 25-foot backup from the driveway.
Commissioner Karp asked how big the flat pad was on the property.
Associate Planner Schonborn estimated the pad area to be approximately 8,000 to 9,000 square feet.
Vice Chair Cote asked about other large projects approved by the PC and how this relates to those projects.
Associate Planner Schonborn stated that it depends on the neighborhood and how the project relates to the context of the neighborhood that it is located in and how it appears.
Commissioner Tetrault asked about the structure sizes in the neighborhood. Chairman Mueller stated that he recalls the PC reviewing projects where the structure size may have been significantly larger on the bases of percentage, but not at this scale. He also clarified that the foliage that significantly impairs a view would be conditioned to be trimmed or removed only if the application is approved.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Allen Ginsburg 3020 Crownview Drive (applicant) felt that the proposed structure has been architecturally designed to be structurally and seismically sound and to not impose on any of the neighbors and their views and privacy. He also stated that homes in the area such as this one, were built in the 1960’s and do not meet the needs and desires of today. He felt that this design was impeccable and met the needs of he and his wife in all areas.
Charlotte Ginsburg 3020 Crownview Drive felt that this house was very beautiful and would enhance the entire neighborhood. She noted that this house was much larger than others in the neighborhood, however she did not feel that it appeared so much larger from the street. She stated that these properties, developed in the 1960’s, do not keep up with the property values of today.
Chairman Mueller asked Mrs. Ginsburg if there were any features on this proposal that could possibly be eliminated to help reduce the mass and bulk of the house.
Mrs. Ginsburg did not know of any features that could be eliminated, noting that it would be difficult since they are trying to stay within the existing footprint of the house.
Jerry Rodin 29000 Western Ave., #408 (Architect) stated that he would be able to put a wing wall on the side of the house instead of a deck which would help with the neighbor’s concerns regarding privacy. He showed several pictures of the proposed house, explaining the layout of the proposed project. He explained that the grading was to put the mechanical and electrical equipment under the house. He explained that the house was designed to maximize the view corridors of the neighboring properties and he did not think the house was creating a view impairment from neighboring properties, which is key. He felt that the design of this house works well for the neighborhood since the mass is not visible because of the slope of the street and topography of the neighborhood, so the only place you will perceive mass is when you stand directly in front of the house.
Vice Chair Cote asked Mr. Rodin to identify where the extreme slopes are located on the property in relation to the proposed residence.
Mr. Rodin noted that he has increased the existing footprint of the house by 4 percent, and pointed out on a picture where the slopes are located.
Commissioner Gerstner asked about the location of the two-story portion of the house, as it seems to be located on the uphill part of the property.
Mr. Rodin explained that this was the most logical portion of the lot to place the two-story addition and felt that placing the addition on the southern portion of the property would begin to infringe on property rights. He also noted that this location was advantageous to the Ginsburgs in terms of their view.
Commissioner Gerstner asked about the architectural elements and how they relate to mass and appearance of the structure. Mr. Rodin explained that when you have any second story on this lot, there will be some type of mass, but the architecture of the building reduces that perception along with the elements that push the second story away from the north elevation.
Ronald Letvin 3023 Crownview Drive felt this home was a beautiful addition to the community and encouraged the Planning Commission to approve the project.
Blanca Letvin 3023 Crownview Drive stated that she too was very much in favor of the project and felt it would increase the property values of all in the neighborhood.
R. White 2952 Crownview Drive stated that he too was for the project. He felt that living in a hillside community with a view there would also be the potential for some loss of view or privacy, however he felt the Ginsburgs have been very sensitive to the needs of the neighbors who have contacted them with their concerns.
Rebecca Cox 2952 Crownview Drive stated that she too was in favor of the project.
Cherine Medawar 3001 Crownview Drive stated that he was in favor of the project and it would be a good addition to the neighborhood.
John Dye 29743 Knoll View Drive was also in support of the project and did not think that once the house was built the bulk and mass would be apparent from the street. He felt there are other homes in the neighborhood that are comparable if you travel further up Crownview Drive.
Ruberta Weaver 2978 Crownview Drive stated that she lives directly below the Ginsburg property and did not think the addition will affect her in any way. She gave her support of the project and encouraged the Planning Commission to approve the project.
Terry Foughty 2126 Fairhill Drive stated that he was in favor of the project, as it improves the neighborhood and everyone’s property values.
Don Winston 29647 Grandpoint Lane feels that large homes that take up the entire lot lose their beauty and soul. He felt that the speakers so far are not affected by the view, as they live below or on other streets. He felt it was important to look after the integrity of the area, and felt that a 9,000 square foot home was not in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. He felt that the structure appeared large and was not sure how it would appear from the rear, but a reduction in size would help.
Vice Chair Cote asked Mr. Winston if his was one of the homes that staff had done a view analysis from.
Mr. Winston responded that staff had done a view analysis from his home and staff displayed the photograph taken from his property, but you get a different perspective in person.
Chairman Mueller asked Mr. Winston if his concerns regarding mass and bulk were from the street or if they also included the rear of the proposed home.
Mr. Winston answered that his concerns with mass and bulk were from the front, side, and rear of the home. Mr. Winston noted that a two-story home has been built that has taken a portion of his harbor view and that the Ginsburgs will take another portion of their view, and asked how much would be enough.
Hugo Baldelli 3105 Crownview Drive stated that he was afraid he would lose a portion of his view with this proposed residence. He was not convinced that the view impairment of the harbor was not significant. He stated that there is currently foliage on his neighbor’s property between his home and the applicant’s; however, he is in the process of filing for view restoration and asked that this project be delayed until he is able to have the foliage removed to see what impact this residence will have on his view.
Commissioner Gerstner asked Mr. Baldelli if he felt that the thinning or removal of the trees will then allow him to better assess if the new home will cause a significant view impairment.
Mr. Baldelli explained that because of these trees he cannot see the silhouette that is currently constructed so he does not know if the house will cause a view impairment or not. He noted that a view restoration application has been filed for the trees and it is pending.
Vice Chair Cote asked staff to identify where the silhouette is located when looking from Mr. Baldelli’s property.
Associate Planner Schonborn pointed to an area behind vegetation where he felt the silhouette is located and explained how staff determined that the proposed structure would not result in a significant view impairment to the property.
Frank Sousa 3045 Crownview Drive stated that his concern is one of privacy, noting his home is directly across from the proposed residence. He stated that people will be able to look directly from the proposed deck into his living room and living areas. He stated that putting some type of wood on the balcony and treatment on the windows will satisfy his privacy issues. He was also concerned about the amount of traffic that will be generated during the construction of the residence, as the street is unsafe in this area.
Fay Amini 29635 Grandpoint Lane submitted a nighttime photo to the Planning Commission showing the view from her living room towards downtown. She felt that this proposed residence will obstruct the majority of her downtown view.
Christopher Peters 28504 Vista Tierra Ct, explaining that his family owns the vacant lot directly below the subject property. He stated that his concern was not with the size of the home, but more with the stability of the steep slope between the structure and his vacant lot. He was concerned that this home will be built right up to the edge of the slope and felt that will create tremendous privacy concerns with any house he attempts to build. He asked that the proposed house be moved back from the slope to mitigate these issues.
William Yang 1002 Ashpark Lane, Harbor City was concerned about the location of the house in relation to the steep slope and also felt it should be moved back. He stated that when standing on the lot below it looked like the house could fall down onto the lot at any minute. He felt that the City had a responsibility to make sure the geology reports done were sufficient before allowing the house to be built.
Mr. Rodin (in rebuttal) felt that many of the comments have been addressed in the staff report. He felt that when trees on Mr. Ginsburg’s property are removed, the views from many of the neighboring properties will be improved. He explained that the orientation of the new driveway will increase the safety issues on the street, since cars do not have to back up directly onto Crownview Drive.
Commissioner Gerstner asked Mr. Rodin how he and staff came to the point where staff felt this house was not compatible with the neighborhood yet he and the Ginsburgs felt it was compatible and whether there is any room for compromise.
Mr. Rodin explained that staff has been very helpful throughout the process. He stated that his goal throughout the process has been to create a home that creates the least amount of problem and meets all code requirements. He stated that staff is doing their job and has very fairly presented the pros and cons of the project. He felt that there is room for a solution to this project.
Vice Chair Cote asked Mr. Rodin about the privacy issue raised from the neighbor across the street. She asked Mr. Rodin if he would be willing to mitigate these concerns.
Mr. Rodin stated that the neighbor is justified in his concerns. He noted that the balcony is for circulation purposes only and he would be able to place a wing wall there that would mitigate the privacy concerns for the neighbor. He stated that the windows in question were mainly in closets and areas where people would not be standing and looking out and the other window will be of etched glass. He stated that he would be willing to work with the neighbor to mitigate his concerns.
Vice Chair Cote asked why a second story is necessary.
Mr. Rodin stated that the size of the lot is not indicative of the buildable area. The pad is small due to the extreme slopes that surround the pad, which are limitations that work against his clients when designing a structure because it forces them to a second story that will be visible from anywhere. Further, the second story is necessary to also allow one property owner to gain views.
Commissioner Knight asked Mr. Rodin if the Ginsburgs would be willing to trim some of the foliage on their property so that the neighbors will have a better view of the silhouette.
Mr. Rodin answered that they will be wiling to trim some of the foliage.
Chairman Mueller asked if there are any specific modifications that can be made that will reduce the mass and the bulk of the house without reducing the square footage of the house.
Mr. Rodin answered that alterations can be made on the second floor, however he would have to discuss these changes with the Ginsburgs. He was concerned that too many changes would affect the integrity of the design of the house.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Karp was concerned about the amount of grading associated with the project. He also discussed the size of the house and noted this would then increase the average and range in the neighborhood dramatically and open the door for much larger homes to be built in the neighborhood.
Commissioner Tetreault stated he was very concerned about the neighborhood compatibility of this home and he too was concerned about the size, bulk, and mass of the proposed home.
Commissioner Knight felt that what was driving the design of this home was to meet the client’s wishes rather than meeting their needs. He did not think the findings for neighborhood compatibility could be made, as it is very much larger than the other homes in the neighborhood. He was concerned about the view issues as well. He felt that the architect and owners needed to re-think the scope of the project.
Commissioner Gerstner noted that this property has its distinct challenges. He felt that a house can be redesigned that captures the views while reducing the bulk and mass of the house. He felt that the house as currently designed appears larger than it actually is. He felt that a house this large could be built on this property, as it is zoned RS-2 and is a large lot, however the house does not need to look larger than it actually is.
Vice Chair Cote complimented the Ginsburgs and Mr. Rodin for the time and effort they have taken to meet with their neighbors and discuss the project with them. She discussed the beautiful views that the neighborhood enjoys, however she did not think the proposed residence would create a significant view impact on these neighbors, noting however that the residence would cause some view impacts. She discussed the mass and bulk of the house, and felt that the positioning of the proposed residence accentuates the mass and bulk as it sits high above an extreme slope. She felt that the home was compatible with the neighborhood in terms of the style, however the large windows and large doors on the front façade make the home look even larger. She therefore did not feel she could make the appropriate findings to approve the project. She felt that trimming the foliage on the property would be beneficial to the neighbors as well as the Ginsburgs.
Chairman Mueller discussed the views, explaining that he was looking for landmarks when at the various properties in the neighborhood. He agreed that trimming the foliage on the property would be helpful. He felt that if small changes were made to the project, such as moving the house slightly back from the slope and slightly reducing the house in size might help reduce the concerns of the neighbors to the south of the property. Discussing mass and bulk, he felt this particular lot has buildable area and there are alternatives that would make the house more compatible with the neighborhood.
Commissioner Tetreault commented that because this is such a large project he did not feel comfortable suggesting any specific changes that the architect could make that would help reduce the appearance of the mass and bulk of the house.
Commissioner Karp moved to adopt P.C. Resolution No. 2004-36 thereby denying the project as recommended by staff, seconded by Commissioner Knight.
Associate Planner Schonborn noted that if the Planning Commission were to deny the project without prejudice that would allow the applicant to redesign the project and resubmit a new application.
Vice Chair Cote moved to amend the motion to deny the project without prejudice.
Commissioner Karp accepted the amendment to the motion.
A discussion followed as to whether the project should be denied with prejudice or continued to a later date. Staff discussed the timelines involved with both and the pros and cons associated with both.
Chairman Mueller suggested asking the applicant their input and preference.
Chairman Mueller re-opened the public hearing.
Mr. Rodin felt that denial without prejudice would allow him time to redesign the project and also allow staff the time to do their review. He felt that there are options to be considered in the redesign of the project and he wanted to make sure he and staff have the necessary time to review these options. He encouraged the Planning Commission to not give up on the project, as he felt there are solutions to the problems.He en
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
The motion to deny the project without prejudice was approved, (5-0).
5. Revision to Grading Permit (Case No. ZON2003-00349): 5251 Rolling Ridge Road
It being after 11:00, Commissioner Karp moved to suspend the Planning Commission rules and hear new business, seconded by Commissioner Knight. Approved, without objection.
Commissioner Gerstner excused himself from the public hearing and left the room, as he lives within 500 feet of the project on Rolling Ridge Road.
Associate Planner Blumenthal presented the staff report, explaining that this is a revision request to change the orientation of the building footprint of the approved residence. He stated that staff felt all findings could be made for the application and was recommending approval of the revision to the grading permit.
Vice Chair Cote asked staff if this rotation will change the appearance of the mass and bulk of the home from the street.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that with this rotation and the proposed landscaping, in staff’s opinion, there will not be any substantial change in the appearance of bulk and mass of the house from the street.
Chairman Mueller asked staff why the applicant was requesting the rotation of the house.
Associate Planner Blumenthal stated that according to the applicant, he had originally planned to move the house further away from the street as directed by the Planning Commission, thereby keeping the house parallel with the street. However, at some point, the house was rotated on the plans without the knowledge of the applicant, and was not caught until the foundation design had begun.
Chairman Mueller asked if this change would cause additional grading.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that there was no anticipated change in the amount of grading.
Chairman Mueller opened the public hearing.
Ron Florance 6 Rivo Alto Canal (applicant) explained that an error was made either by the architect’s office or the civil engineer’s office and he was before the Planning Commission to fix that error. He explained that this change will shift the house 13 feet closer to the east, away from the Slagg property. It will also push the house down into the lot farther by approximately 14 feet. He felt that changing the orientation of the project will reduce the impact of the house from the road.
Bettie Slagg 5287 Rolling Ridge Road stated that reorienting the house on the applicant’s property will place the house seven feet closer to her residence and directly in her view. She strongly objected to the proposed revision to the footprint of the house, noting that no silhouette was erected to demonstrate the impact it would have on her property. She noted that at the March 23rd Planning Commission Mr. Florance stated he would make no further changes of any kind, and noted the minutes of the meeting will reflect that statement. She requested the Planning Commission decision of March 23rd be upheld.
Commissioner Knight asked Mrs. Slagg to clarify the easement she was referring to in the letter she submitted to the Planning Commission.
Mrs. Slagg stated she was referring to the utility easement.
Bill Slagg 5814 Flambeau Road stated that the house would be closer to his home and also noted that the pool will also be closer and was worried about the noise from the area. He asked the Planning Commission to deny the request and stay with the original plan.
Bill Gerstner 5317 Rolling Ridge Road stated that he was pleased with the rotation of the house that was approved by the Commission at the last meeting, as it took much of the bulk and mass away from the street. He felt that by rotating the house as requested, the appearance of bulk and mass from the street will again increase.
Commissioner Knight asked Mr. Gerstner to clarify the position of the house that was approved by the Planning Commission.
Mr. Gerstner referred to a slide depicting the original proposed position of the house. He explained that the Planning Commission had directed Mr. Florance to move the house 10 feet further from the street. He stated that at the second hearing the house was moved back 10 feet as requested and turned, and even though the Planning Commission did not direct Mr. Florance to rotate the house, that is what was re-silhouetted and what the Planning Commission made their judgments and decision from. He stated that the current request is to reposition the house to its original orientation.
Vice Chair Cote asked staff if, when the project was re-silhouetted, it was done so with the rotation.
Associate Planner Blumenthal showed a picture of the second silhouette that was done for the original approval, noting that the silhouette was set back 10 feet further from the street and rotated.
Vice Chair Cote asked if the silhouette had been up for enough time for both the applicant and neighbors to have ample time to view the silhouette.
Associate Planner Blumenthal answered that was correct.
Mr. Florance (in rebuttal) stated that it was an absolute fact that when he re-silhouetted the house he followed the instructions of the Planning Commission to move the house 10 feet back from the original 20-foot setback. He stated that he was present at the site when the silhouette was reconstructed and he saw the measurement that indicated the house was 30 feet from the street, not 38 or 40 feet. He stated that the silhouette did not show a rotated house, the rotation somehow happened on the plans.
Commissioner Knight asked Mr. Florance why he wanted the house rotated, as he was requesting.
Mr. Florance stated that this rotation would give him a better view, it would improve the look of the house from the street, and it would improve the view from the Slagg’s property.
Chairman Mueller closed the public hearing.
Vice Chair Cote asked staff to clarify if the new silhouette reflected what was submitted on the plans when the Planning Commission was reviewing the project.
Associate Planner Blumenthal explained that when staff did their site visit with the new silhouette, they felt that the silhouette was consistent with the plan that was submitted and approved.
Commissioner Tetreault did not feel that the proposed rotation has an impact on size or bulk of the house or the neighborhood compatibility of the house. He stated that the property is visible from the road and the neighbors and did not feel this rotation was a significant change.
Commissioner Knight agreed that the rotation is minor enough that he did not think it would create a situation so agrescious that it should be denied. He felt that the landscaping screening near the street will mitigate the appearance of the mass and bulk of the house from the street.
Vice Chair Cote was disturbed that the plans before the Planning Commission did not reflect what the applicant thought he was proposing and what was silhouetted on the property. She noted that she had not participated in the original hearings, however she was open to the thoughts of the Planning Commissioners who had participated in the hearings, and if they did not think this was a major impact to mass and bulk she was open to consider this minor change.
Chairman Mueller read from the previous minutes where he asked staff if the new submittal, which shows rotating the house and changing the angle of the front façade, mitigates the mass and bulk of the house from the street. He stated that in the original application he was struggling with the size of the home, how it would be compatible with the neighborhood, and how it would fit on the lot. He stated that at the time of the second hearing he was pleased to see the house had been moved further to the west and very pleased to see the house rotated. He stated that he did not stop for one minute to think the plans before him were anything but what the architect and applicant wanted. He stated that seeing the house rotated on the plans entered into his decision to approve the project and will also enter into his decision tonight. He felt if the Planning Commission were to redecide the positioning of the house then the Planning Commission should also open up the other issues regarding mass and bulk, and would be uncomfortable approving this revision without doing so. Therefore, he was not in support of approving this proposed revision.
Commissioner Tetreault stated that he has been reviewing the March 23rd minutes and noted on page 7 of those minutes that Chairman Mueller had asked Mr. Florance if he had considered any alternatives in regards to reducing the size of the home and Mr. Florance had answered that he had moved the house to the west and turned it, and felt that was sufficient. Commissioner Tetreault felt that the minutes seemed to indicate that the applicant was aware of the rotation of the home on the plans, so unless the minutes are incorrect, he is a bit more concerned as to why this revision is before the Planning Commission tonight.
Commissioner Knight stated that, while this slight rotation may not be significant, he was willing to go along with the idea of reopening the issue of mass and bulk and readdressing the issue.
Commissioner Karp felt it would be unfair to reopen the discussion of mass and bulk at this time and the Planning Commission should either approve or deny the request.
Vice Chair Cote moved to deny, without prejudice, the revision to the Grading Permit (Zon2003-00349), seconded by Commissioner Karp. Approved, (4-0-1) with Commissioner Gerstner abstaining.
Director/Secretary Rojas noted that the Resolution will be placed on the consent calendar at the next Planning Commission meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
6. Minutes of August 10, 2004
The Commission agreed to continue the review of these minutes to the September 14, 2004 meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:27 a.m.