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Variance requests of Fred and Mary Harrington re 606 12th Street


Hearing Examiner #: HE-14-PL-017
Planning #:VAR2013-00030
Incident #:
Filing Date:03/14/2014
City Contact:Jackie Lynch
Hearing Date: 05/28/2014
Description: Variance requests of Fred and Mary Harrington re 606 12th Street
Decision Date: 06/11/2014
Decision Summary:Approved with conditions

This matter came before the Bellingham Hearing Examiner for hearing on the 28th day of May 2014 on the application of Fred and Mary Harrington for variances from setback requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code to construct additions and alterations to the existing single-family residence located at 606 12th Street in Bellingham.
Testimony was received from Jackie Lynch, Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department; and Fred and Mary Harrington, Applicants.
In addition to the Bellingham Municipal Code and Comprehensive Plan, the following documents were considered as part of the record: See Exhibit List.
I. FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Fred and Mary Harrington applied for a variance from front and side yard setback requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code to construct additions and alterations to their residence located at 606 12th Street.
2. The subject property is located on 12th Street in Area 4A of the South Hill Neighborhood. This area is designated Residential Single, detached, 7,200 square feet minimum detached lot size. View is a special condition.
3. The property contains an existing residence that was constructed over 100 years ago, long before the adoption of zoning regulations in the city.
4. The existing residence is located nearly on the southerly property line, about 23 inches from the northerly property line and approximately nine feet, eight inches from the front, easterly property line, or 49 feet, eight inches from the centerline of 12th Street.
5. The property is 25 feet in width and 90 feet deep. An alley is located to the rear of the property.
6. 12th Street has an 80 -foot wide right-of-way.
7. An accessory dwelling unit was installed in the basement of the home sometime prior to 2003. An accessory dwelling unit permit was issued for this unit after the fact.
8. In 2009, the city discovered that a porch had been enclosed without a building permit. The owners then applied for and received a building permit. This permit expired due to lack of action.
9. A code enforcement action was initiated to require removal of the front porch framing that was done without a permit and that does not comply with setback requirements. The code enforcement matter remains pending in court, but has been continued to await the outcome of the variance process.
10. The proposal includes enclosure of an open porch in the northeast corner of the building, expansion of the upper floor to the west, expansion of a wall on the south side of the upper deck, replacement of a storage room adjacent to the northwest corner of the rear deck with a smaller storage room, addition of a shared room in the southwest corner of the lower accessory unit, restoring the demolished upper deck to its previous dimensions, and the addition of siding to the north and south walls.
11. The Applicants propose the requested modifications to the existing structure to correct existing problems, such as water running into the house and flooding the lower level, rotted decking, siding in disrepair, and lack of storage space.
12. The proposed modifications would not extend further into the front and side yards of the property than the existing walls/foundation of the structure, except to the extent that replacement materials such as siding may be thicker than the existing materials.
13. BMC 20.30.040 requires minimum interior side yards of five feet from the property lines, and a minimum front yard 50 feet from the centerline of the abutting front residential street. Both side yards and the front yard of the subject residence are deficient in setback area. The proposed modifications would be located partially within these setback areas.
14. BMC 20.18.020 sets forth variance criteria applicable to setback variances.
15. City staff has recommended approval of the variance requests subject to the conditions set forth in the Staff Report.
16. No public comments were received for this proposal.
17. Due to the location of the existing structure on the lot, constructed well before the adoption of setback regulations, the narrow width of the lot, and the age and configuration of the existing house, modifications to the structure to correct and prevent deterioration of the structure, and improve functionality of the residence, are not feasible without encroaching within the setback areas in line with the exterior walls/foundation of the existing structure.
18. Granting the variance will not be unduly detrimental to the public welfare, nor injurious to the property or improvements in the vicinity. Some of the requested modifications are repair or replacement of existing structures. The additions do not encroach further within the side and front yards than the existing structure. The second story additions are relatively minor and should not adversely impact the neighboring properties.
19. Repair/restoration of the existing structure and modifications to protect it from weather and to add functionality to the residence are reasonable uses of the property which are not possible without a variance.
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. A request for a variance for work performed without required permits or approvals is considered as though the work had not been performed. All work performed without required permits must be brought into compliance with required conditions after granting of the variance, or, if the variance is denied non-compliant work must be removed/remediated.
2. The variance criteria have been satisfied for the requests included in the application.
3. The requested variances should be granted subject to the conditions set forth below.
4. Any Finding of Fact that should be denominated a Conclusion of Law shall be deemed to be a Conclusion of Law. Any Conclusion of Law that should be denominated a Finding of Fact shall be deemed to be a Finding of Fact.
III. ORDER
Variances from setback requirements of BMC 20.30.040 are granted for the following:
      A. Enclosure of the front porch, with a new door and windows, and walls in line with the existing porch structure.
      B. Expansion of the upper floor by approximately two feet to the west within the north side yard and approximately eight feet to the west within the south side yard setback, in line with the existing north and south walls of the structure.
      C. Expansion of the restored upper deck within the south side yard setback and addition of walls, in line with the south walls of the structure.
      D. Replacement of an unheated storage room adjacent to the northwest corner of the rear deck with a shorter storage room that does not encroach on the neighbor's property, in line with the existing northern wall of the structure.
      E. Addition of a shared room to the southwest corner of the lower level, in line with the southerly wall of the existing structure.
      F. Restoration of the demolished upper deck to its previous dimensions within the north and south side yards.
      G. Addition or replacement of siding to the north and south walls.

These variances are granted subject to the following conditions:
1. The Building Official may require a licensed design professional to provide a sketch and narrative for the areas of all construction work that was performed without required permits or inspections.
2. All necessary building permits shall be obtained for work already performed, and for work to be performed in furtherance of the proposals included in this application.
3. Property lines shall be clearly established via a survey prior to any work within the setback areas.
4. The design, location and construction of the proposal shall comply with all other requirements of the Bellingham Municipal Code, including, but not limited to, building and fire codes, except as variances may be granted. Fire code separation and/or fire walls may be required. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as a variance from building or fire code requirements.
5. Pursuant to BMC 21.10 these variances shall expire two years from the date of this decision unless a complete building permit application for the authorized work has been filed. Corrective action for work performed without a permit, or to correct code violations may be required to be taken within shorter timeframes, as determined by code enforcement authorities.

ENTERED this 11th day of June 2014.
Bellingham Hearing Examiner
________________________________
Dawn Sturwold
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