Overruling the objections of a neighbor who said the project would invade his privacy, the City Council on Monday upheld the approval of a second-story addition in the 1200 block of Flanders Road.
In February, the Planning Commission approved by a 5-0 vote a 1,320-square-foot addition to an existing single-story home at 1225 1/2 Flanders Road, owned by Hui Su and Chengxing Zhai. Philippe Hartley, who owns a nearby home, appealed that decision, arguing that the second story would allow for invasive views into his backyard.
Hartley asked that the two second-story windows that face his property be removed from the design plans, and that screening, in the form of mesh fencing, trees or shrubbery be installed to further buffer the view.
"We want to help our neighbors achieve what they want to achieve . . . What we do not want to do is do that at the expense of both our privacy and our property net worth," Hartley said.
Su and Zhai argued the requests were unreasonable, and said the delays caused by Hartley's objections had cost them thousands of dollars.
"There [would be a] very limited view from our second-story windows," Su said. "We don't see Mr. Hartley's swimming pool at all; you only see a very tiny portion of his patio."
Bob Rhody, the architect for Su and Zhai, also took aim at Hartley, claiming an outdoor fireplace in Hartley's backyard had been illegally built. Citing city permits dating back to 2005, Rhody argued the Hartleys sneaked the chimney into their building plans late in the application process.
"I submit to you that Mr. Hartley cheated, and he built that fireplace without property inspections," Rhody said. "That fireplace should not be there. If that fireplace is not there, these hedges could grow."
Hartley called the claim an "extraordinary fabrication," and said if Rhody tried to prove it he would end up with "egg on his face."
The council did not address the chimney issue. Instead, members unanimously agreed to add a number of conditions to the project that would mitigate Hartley's privacy concerns. These included: reducing the size and raising the height of the windows, as well as positioning boxed trees to block the view until existing shrubbery could grow more.
"Any kind of tennis fence . . . is in my opinion out of the question," Councilwoman Laura Olhasso said. "Not only does it not meet our code, I don't see it as a necessary thing."
The dispute was taking an unnecessary "aura of complexity," Councilman Steve Del Guercio said, adding that the trees and hedge, once fully grown, would provide sufficient screening. Mayor Pro Tem Gregory Brown said he too believed the proposed buffering was a good solution.
"The shrub is already there," Brown said. "And it looks like it is going to be able to achieve enough height."