John Howard Drops Objections : Feud Over Ovrom's House Fades

Times Staff Writer

The outspoken husband of Burbank City Councilwoman Mary Lou Howard on Tuesday backed away from his battle with City Manager Bud Ovrom over aspects of Ovrom's plan to build a house in Burbank's hillside area.

John A. Howard, an attorney who specializes in personal-injury cases, told the Burbank City Council at a hearing that he was satisfied that Ovrom's prospective neighbors had been given adequate information about Ovrom's intentions to seek variances from city-code requirements for his property.

Because of the irregular shape and slope of his lot, Ovrom requested that he be allowed to build fences closer to streets than is normally allowed, officials said.

Howard, who some officials say has been involved in a vendetta against Ovrom, said last month that Ovrom had tried to bend the rules by burying the information about the variances, or setbacks, in obtaining a building permit.

He said Ovrom had applied for a conditional-use permit for the two-story home, but then failed to apply for separate variances for the fences. Such an application, he had said, would have informed residents within 1,000 feet of Ovrom's property of specifics about the setbacks.

Howard appealed last year's vote by the city planning board approving Ovrom's plan, calling the conditional-use permit "a sham."

After he filed the appeal, Howard accused Ovrom of "trying to get in the back door, instead of the front door, like everyone else."

Because the appeal prompted another notice to Ovrom's prospective neighbors containing more information, Howard said at Tuesday's hearing that he was satisfied and withdrew the appeal.

"From the very start, I opposed the procedure, not the application," Howard said.

After Howard's withdrawal, the City Council upheld the planning board's approval of Ovrom's plan.

Ovrom said he and Howard have been at odds since 1986 when they argued at a Fourth of July party.

Ovrom said Wednesday he had not tried to bend the rules. He said Burbank City Atty. Douglas Holland handled the processing of his application and the same notice about his plans would have been sent to neighbors whether he had sought a conditional-use permit or the variances.

"I'm just glad it's over," Ovrom said.

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