A meeting of the Village of Riverlea Planning Commission was held February 8, 2016 at the Evening Street Elementary School. Members present were Carolee Noonan (Planning Commissioner), Janet Brown, Robert Davis, Taylor Surface, and Paul Unrue. Also present were Sheryl Ellecessor, Ken Helmlinger, Kent Shimeall, and David Stroman. Joshua C. Mehling served as Clerk. The Planning Commissioner called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.
In the current patio structure, the retaining walls are leaning due to the erosion, along with a gazebo that is also located on the property. Because moving the wall will remove the current walkway, the landscape architect proposed a new walkway, which cannot be relocated due to the steepness of the hill and erosion in other locations. As located where planned, there is about 8 feet of elevation change along the steps, whereas if moved, there would be about 20 feet of elevation change. In addition, there is a large Sycamore, which provides support in keeping the hillside together, that would impede relocating the walkway.
The neighbor who owns the property next to this one, and along whose property the walkway would be relocated, is currently down in Florida, where she resides much of the time. The homeowner stated that the view of the walkway would be mostly blocked by landscaping. The Planning Commissioner inquired as to whether anyone had attempted to contact the neighbor down in Florida, and the answer was that they had not. As part of the process, the Clerk-Treasurer sent her the notice of the variance request, which was most likely forwarded to her address in Florida.
Davis inquired as to whether the project would require engineering certification from the County and the Planning Commissioner replied that it would not, as it was not an actual structure. Unrue stated that his only concern was the notification of the neighbor, that he felt that the project was for the good of the Village. The Planning Commissioner stated that the neighbor had been notified and that it was her responsibility to notify the Village if she had any issues with the proposal and that she felt that the Village had acted responsibly and could proceed with approval of the variance and COA. Davis asked when the construction would begin if the project were approved. Ellecessor stated that the maintenance portion of the project had already begun and Helmlinger stated that the construction portion could begin in 2-3 weeks. Davis stated that he had no personal objection to the project as planned, but that he would feel more comfortable if there were a positive response from the neighbor to a direct inquisition from the homeowner or Village. The Planning Commissioner stated that she would be opening to contacting the neighbor in the following days and approving or denying the application after this conversation. Brown mentioned that she felt that this action of chasing down the neighbor would set a dangerous new precedent for Planning Commission activities in the future. Surface stated that his concern was that the neighbor had not yet weighed in on the project.The Planning Commissioner proposed tabling the request until the neighbor had responded to the request and hold a special meeting of the Commission once this had occurred. She stated that her preference would be to approve the variance and COA as planned, as the Village had performed its notification requirements. Brown moved to approve the variance for the location of the walkway and Unrue seconded this motion. The following vote was recorded on the motion: Yea: 4, Brown, Noonan, Surface, and Unrue: Nay, None, Abstain: 1, Davis. The Motion carried 4-0- 1. Brown moved to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness and Davis seconded this motion. The following vote was recorded on the motion: Yea: 5, Brown, Davis, Noonan, Surface, and Unrue: Nay, None. The Motion carried 5-0.
Kent Shimeall, a neighbor, stated that he approved of the plans for the addition, but that he asked the Commission to make sure that they carefully considered any requests for variance that come before them, so as not to dilute the rules that are in place. The Planning Commissioner concurred with this statement and clarified that the 10 foot rule was primarily put in place for aesthetic reasons, not for safety requirements.Davis stated that though he had concerns with the previous plans for the addition, he had no objections to the current plans with the revised distance. Davis moved to approve the variance for the addition on the back and the bumpout of the current room and Surface seconded this motion. The following vote was recorded on the motion: Yea: 4, Brown, Davis, Noonan, and Surface: Nay, None, Abstain: 1, Unrue. The Motion carried 4-0- 1. Davis moved to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness and Brown seconded this motion. The following vote was recorded on the motion: Yea: 4, Brown, Davis, Noonan, and Surface: Nay, None, Abstain: 1, Unrue. The Motion carried 4-0- 1.
Carolea Noonan, Planning Commissioner
Josh Mehling, Clerk