City Council Is Divided on Cupola for House

Would a couple of cupolas ruin the small-town feel of Seal Beach? That was the hot debate at Monday night's City Council meeting.

The controversy: the Planning Commission's denial of longtime resident and contractor Alan Harbour's request to put a cupola--a round, domed porch--on top of the Cape Cod-style house he plans to build at 519 Ocean Ave.

The commission said his request to build a domed structure that extends 4 feet over the city's 25-foot height restriction was out of character in the neighborhood.

Harbour appealed to the City Council. The cupola, he said, "is definitely something you find in seaside communities. I don't find it out of place in a community like ours."

"I'm very much opposed to this," resident Jerry Anderson said.

"Just because someone has the ways and means to do something doesn't mean it's right for the community. . . . The view belongs to all of us."

The issue divided the council, with members Paul Yost and Shawn Boyd abstaining.

Mayor George Brown's motion to deny the appeal--supporting the Planning Commission's decision--died for lack of a second.

His fear: If Harbour builds one, everyone will want one and the eclectic town will start looking like Cape Cod.

Council members Patty Campbell and William Doane momentarily balked at making a motion to approve the cupola, voting on a new motion only after City Atty. Quinn Barrow advised them that the Planning Commission decision would stand if they failed to vote.

The cupola was given preliminary approval by a 2-1 vote. Brown cast the dissenting vote.

The cupola controversy will return to the council for final approval in two weeks.

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