A Newport Beach planning commissioner has removed his name from consideration for a second term to resolve some half-finished business: the construction of his home.
Commissioner Scott Peotter notified the city this week that he would not seek a second term when the appointments were brought before the City Council. Fred Ameri was selected to fill the vacant position, the city clerk's office confirmed Wednesday.
For the last three years, Peotter and his neighbors have been at an impasse over his home on Portweybridge Place, which he partially tore down and began rebuilding in 2007.
"Unfortunately, we hit the market at the wrong time," Peotter said about the beginning of start-and-stall efforts.
Construction should begin again in the next few weeks, Peotter said, adding that he is close to closing a loan with a new financial partner.
In a somewhat unusual plan, Peotter decided to construct the home in two phases in which he would first raze the back portion of the property while he and his wife lived in the front.
The plan was to then raze the front and move into the back. That's about when the project ran into trouble, Peotter said. After completing phase one in 2008, the financing he had planned on for the rest of project fell through.
"Since that time, I've been trying to scramble to get alternate financing for the house," Peotter said. "If I could change the situation, I would. I know my neighbors are not happy with me, and I wouldn't be happy either if I were in their situation."
Kathleen Kale, who has lived in the home adjacent to Peotter's property for more than 12 years, said she did not want to say anything negative but did not have any "positive feelings about the project," either.
The constant curiosity the project draws has become something of a nuisance, she said.
City planning department records show approved and subsequently expired permits for Peotter's property over the last few years. Peotter's last permit expired June 16.
Most building permits have a lifetime of six months. Anyone can apply for a new permit, however, but all applicable fees must be paid again, City Manager David Kiff said.
"In theory, you can stay in a constant state of construction indefinitely," Kiff said.
However, the permitting process is designed "assuming you want to get your house built."
Once a permit expires, a homeowner can be issued citations and fined, Kiff said.
Peotter's construction has been fully permitted and approved by the city, but his status on the Planning Commission — he served as chairman in 2008 — did not give him any preferential treatment, Kiff said.
"We try to go straight down the middle," Kiff said. "We all live here and everyone gets the same good service."
Peotter said that he is aware that many people have questioned "an issue of fairness."
"Everyone was concerned that I was receiving favors not given to the average resident," he said.
If anything, Peotter feels as through the city has held him to slightly higher standards to prevent the public from thinking that bias had occurred, he said.
Peotter, who owns a real estate development and project management company in Irvine, said that his family moved into the Newport home in 2003 after his wife inherited it from her parents.
All three of Peotter's children were born at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport, Peotter said, and had been looking forward to the day the two-story house was finally finished.
However, Peotter now plans on selling the house after completion.
Peotter said a large reason for not seeking another term on the Planning Commission is because he may not be living in Newport next year.
"There is some emotional attachment," Peotter said of the home. "We want to stay here, but financially that's not going to happen."