Burbank resident's pool plan scaled back after neighbors intervene

Twenty hillside residents have banded together to successfully lobby against a neighbor's proposal to add two decks and a pool to his property, arguing that the project would intrude upon views and reduce property values in the neighborhood.

The Burbank City Council on Tuesday sided with the residents, denying Gevork Lekhlian's hillside development permit without prejudice, meaning that he can return with an updated proposal for his 12-year-old Howard Court home. City officials originally received his proposal in November 2011.

The proposal included a 1,200-square-foot, 10- to 18-foot-tall deck at the west side of Lekhlian's property, a 1,160-square-foot deck at its south side, and a pool at the southwest corner between the decks. The pool and decks would sit 675 feet away from homes on Hamline Place, where many of the appellants reside.

The decks were proposed to extend over the hillside, supported by concrete and metal posts.

“It's just going to be a real eyesore,” said resident and appellant Peter Berwick, adding that he bought his hillside home mainly for the view of the canyons and ridgeline. “It seems almost criminal to allow this pool to be hanging out over this cliff and this mountain ledge in earthquake country.”

Lekhlian said on Thursday he'd be willing to scrap the 12-by-26-foot pool from the proposal. A month ago, he became a grandfather and hoped the decks would serve as a place for the children in his family to play.

“When the kids come to play, they don't have a place to ride bikes,” he said.

Councilman Gary Bric noted that the Howard Court home and the Hamline Place homes aren't that close to one another.

“That house is already there, so to extend patio decking out a little bit further, I really don't have a problem with it,” Bric said.

Lekhlian would've been required to landscape the area around the decks with trees and vegetation to minimize the visual impact on neighbors.

In June, the Planning Board was split on the project, with two in favor, two against. Therefore, the community development director's approval of the project in April stood. The residents appealed the decision, citing safety concerns and visual impacts, which ultimately brought the proposal before the City Council.

Councilman Jess Talamantes said the proposed decking is “excessive,” adding, “I would like to see this project scaled down somewhat.”

Mayor Dave Golonski concurred.

“I just don't believe the way this is currently designed makes it compatible with the existing neighborhood,” he said.

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter @atchek.

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