Marble Cliff Village Council Feb. 15 granted a sideyard setback variance to David Bell, but will continue to discuss his request for a lot split at 1123 Cambridge Blvd.

Marble Cliff Village Council Feb. 15 granted a sideyard setback variance to David Bell, but will continue to discuss his request for a lot split at 1123 Cambridge Blvd.

Bell and his wife purchased the Tarpy House on Cambridge in 2003 and also own the adjacent house at 1123 Cambridge.

They plan to make several small additions to the house at 1123 and build a second home if the lot split is approved. They would then sell both houses while continuing to live in the Tarpy House.

Residents adjacent to the Bell's property have indicated their concerns about the height of the house and garage that will be built and its impact on the amount of sunlight their properties would receive. They were also concerned about the impact on the neighborhood of splitting the large lot.

The lot split would require a variance governing the square footage of a residential property. Village code requires that residential lots must be at least 15,000 square feet and have no less than 90 feet street frontage.

The lot at 1123 Cambridge approximately 29,841 square feet with about 168 feet of street frontage. Bell's proposed split would create a south lot (containing the existing house) of about 18,595 square feet and a north lot of about 11,246 square feet.

The north lot would have street frontage of about 77.4 feet.

The Bells propose building a house of about 4,000 square feet.

The additions to the existing house will include a new entryway, a family room on the first floor and a bathroom for the master bedroom on the second floor, architect B.J. Artrup said.

Bell told council he believes the plan for the property fits "very nicely with the charm and character" of the neighborhood.

Council member David Roark said he continues to be worried about the possibility that the village could grant the lot split only to see circumstances change and the Bells sell the split lot to someone who would not have the same vision as they have.

The Bells, who worked with the village in their plans for the Tarpy House, and Artrup, are known entities that the council knows will "do a sensitive job" with the Cambridge property, Roark said.

He suggested council might grant the lot split on the condition that the Bells' plan be carried through or that an architectural review would be needed if the plans for the property changed.

Fiscal officer Cindy McKay said village ordinance states that council must grant separate approval of the architectural and aesthetic design and placement of any house and/or accessory structure proposed for construction on the newly created north lot.

The question is whether that language gives council the means to make sure "what they say will happen happens," Roark said.

Council could add language to the ordinance the makes the rendering presented by the applicant an exhibit "and that what comes back will be substantially similar to the exhibit," village solicitor Mitch Banchefsky said.

"That gives you a little closer to unbridled discretion in terms of what you are approving when it does come back," he said. "It's an option."

Council member John Kukura said he reviewed the factors that village code states should be considered when a variance from size or area requirements is requested.

The factors that apply to the Bell application include "whether the property will yield a reasonable return or whether there can be a beneficial use of the property without the variance."

Other factors include whether the variance is "substantial" and whether the essential character of the neighborhood would be "substantially altered" or adjacent properties would suffer a "substantial detriment."

"I do believe the adjoining properties would suffer some detriment," Kukura said. "But 'substantial detriment,' how would you define that?" he asked.

The code also states that consideration must be given to whether the problem can be solved by other means than granting the variance, Kukura said.

Council needs to take all of the applicable factors in consideration as it decides whether to grant the variance to allow the lot split, Kukura said.

The issue will be discussed further at council's next meeting on March 15 when the ordinance will be given a third reading and possible vote.