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Thread: Oddball variance justifications

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Oddball variance justifications

    I just received a letter requesting a variance to allow a 6' residential fence to be vertically extended to 8', which requires 2' variance. The woman who is asking for the variance is known to be a very paranoid person who is constantly bugging the police for "security" reasons. I just got off the phone with her and I asked her what the justification for the variance request is and she said, "Because my neighbors are drug addicts, so I need a variance". "This is a security issue". I told her that there are very clear legal requirements that must be met and that the BZA is not likely to approve a variance based on the recreational drug use of her neighbors.

    I LOVE MY JOB !!!!!!! This is all part of being in a small jurisdiction.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Perhaps you could just allow her to string up some barbed wire around the top that way she would be protected but it wouldn't cause a sight restraint. She could run a couple of rows for safety.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  3. #3
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Tell her you will allow it only if you can lock it from the outside......
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  4. #4
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Queen B
    Perhaps you could just allow her to string up some barbed wire around the top that way she would be protected but it wouldn't cause a sight restraint. She could run a couple of rows for safety.
    Are you serious? You would promote a fortress-like approach? Safety from what?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    JNL, most people do not understand that security fencing promotes the opposite.

    I believe that you have a fence as high as the roofline...so long as it is within the building envelope area. Most codes discuss height maximums in terms of yards, and the building envelope area is not part of a 'yard'.

  6. #6

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    Maybe she needs to adopt a Pit Bull for protection,

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL
    Are you serious? You would promote a fortress-like approach? Safety from what?

    No, I was kidding...The safety issue is in her mind.

    I thought seriously about say that she should be allowed razor wire but to keep it in the rustic theme which would be acceptable considering where she lives I thought I would go with barbed wire.

    I would bet that if she put up a couple of strands of barbed wire no one would really notice or object, right Budgie?
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  8. #8
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    ... If this is for more posts on oddball variances, here's another one that I came across just yesterday (if not, please return to your regular posting hereafter )

    ... I had a lady talk to me about a variance she felt she absolutely needed to allow her to build an attached garage. To make it fit, she'd have to build to the property line in a neighbourhood where it would stick out like a sore thumb (let alone encourage tresspassing when it comes time for future maintenance and repairs). Her reason ... she has a car with a keypad entry system that keeps buggering up when it rains and her mechanic said the only thing that she can do about it is to build a garage! I tried to get her to appreciate the bigger picture, but she couldn't get past her need to build a garage for her car (which probably has a lifespan of, what, six years). She got really upset when I suggested she'd have a tough time getting support for it ... she shed tears and said she feels like the whole world is out to get her. I suppose I should be more sympathetic, but I had to bite my lip to keep from blurting out "save your money and buy a new f$#k'n car!!"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Fig Newton
    ... If this is for more posts on oddball variances, here's another one that I came across just yesterday (if not, please return to your regular posting hereafter )
    YES, Fig Newton, that's the kinda stuff I am looking for. What is this "big picture" you speak of. The lady I wrote about came in to visit with me. Keeping in mind that she is extremely paranoid. I very plainly went through the variance requirements the BZA would consider and she ultimately left with tears in her eyes cursing the entire city including myself and the police department for not being willing to allow for her protection from the drug addict next door. The simpliest solution --- MOVE !!!!
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  10. #10
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    What is this "big picture" you speak of.
    In this case ...

    Fisrt the "planning" big picture:
    1. Our Ontario Planning Act has 4 tests for a minor variance. The two trickiest ones IMHO deal with (in short) whether its minor and desirable development for the area. A garage up to the property line in this neigbourhood is not minor nor desirable.
    2. Public interest vs. private interest. Should she be building something permanent on her property that may be undesirable development for the neighbourhood just for something as temporary as a place to park her buggered up car?

    Second the "reasonable person's" big picture that goes something like ...cost/benefit to building a garage for a buggered up car that'll only last you probably 5 more years.

    Oh and, like you said Budgie, everyone was out to get her: the planning department, the building department, the home builder and her neigbours. Its all a big conspiracy you know.

  11. #11
    Member Nor Cal Planner Girl's avatar
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    I always tell people that Variance applications are very expensive, time consuming and can only be approved by the hearing body if she can show that there is something physically wrong with her property that doesn't allow her to enjoy her proeprty in the same manner that her neighbors can... then, (if they have internet access ) I point them to the OPR website and tell them to plug in the keyword "Variance"- it gives the criteria right there that a jurisdiction must follow in order to approve a variance. Really, as I'm sure you pointed out, her issue is a civil matter. Maybe she should plant some Oleanders (toxic, fast growing without much attention) along that fence line and consider going to the pound and finding one or two mean dogs...

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    One of the hard things is to explain that, "unnecessary hardship" essentially means that without the variance the property is worthless and may not be suitable for any economic use. All of the economic utility of the property is gone without the variance.

    the other killer criteria is the "uniqueness" of the property, which I always explain as being something physically unique about the property that makes the variance necessary. The example I tend to give is that if there is a ravine in the rear of the property that might make a front yard setback variance necessary to make use of the property. Hear in the plains of Kansas, we really don't have very many physically unique properties.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  13. #13
    Member Nor Cal Planner Girl's avatar
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    I use the 'ravine' example also in my explanations

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Nor Cal Planner Girl
    I use the 'ravine' example also in my explanations
    It least there are such geographic formations in your state ---- and cliffs to boot.

    The woman in my recent example said that the property was unique because it's a "Heritage Home" and was built around 1900 (what this has to do with the fence height, I will never know), but I pointed out to her that 40% of the homes in town were built prior to 1900. Her response, "oh really, I guess you learn something new each day."
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  15. #15
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    Another oddball variance request

    I had a similar request for a height variance for a fence. The person wrote a long letter describing the fact that his neighbor owned the land on 3 sides of him and he was a jerk. He talked about his dogs being in danger and that the guy was also a slob. He also mentioned that his neighbor threw debris into his yard and he just wanted to live a 'peaceful life'. In his mind, that was enough of a unique situation to grant the variance.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  16. #16

    bigger sign for eye doctor

    I liked the eye doctor who said he needed a bigger sign because his patients couldn't read a small one. It was approved.

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