In a 6-0 vote Jan. 15, Bexley City Council denied a variance request that would allow a property owner to split a vacant lot at 387 S. Parkview Ave. into two parcels and build a new residence.

According to the variance application, Columbus-based Tuckerman Home Group/Paymax Properties LLC requested a variance to divide the existing lot at 387 S. Parkview Ave., which is 133 feet wide by 250 feet deep, into two smaller lots.

The property's eastern boundary and front yard abuts South Parkview Avenue and the back yard and western boundary abuts Westland Avenue.

The request for the lot split sought to create a new western lot 133 feet wide by 110 feet deep facing Westland Avenue that would require a 50-foot variance. It also sought to create a new eastern lot 133 feet wide by 140 feet deep adjacent to and facing South Parkview Avenue that would require a 20-foot variance.

At the Jan. 15 hearing, the applicant and an attorney representing the applicant, as well as residents who opposed and supported the request, offered testimony.

After council members heard the testimony and deliberated, "I made a motion to deny the application based on our finding that the applicant failed to meet their burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence," Councilman Steve Keyes said. "We didn't feel it met their burden, and it was their burden to meet in this particular case."

In arguing for the variance request, applicant Craig Tuckerman said the lot split would remedy neighbors' concerns about storm-water drainage and would enable him to develop a vacant lot that he said looks out of place in the neighborhood.

"As we ... redevelop this property, we would be able to better control (storm water) and take some of the storm drainage to other areas to help alleviate the pressures on the surrounding neighbors," Tuckerman said. "In terms of the proposed home that we would put here, it would improve the values on the street."

Residents who live within 200 feet of 387 S. Parkview Ave. were notified by the city of the variance request and were permitted to speak during the hearing. In addition to concerns about storm-water drainage, those opposing the variance said the lot split would result in obstructed views and diminished privacy if a house were built on the lot. Opponents also argued that if council approved the variance, it would set a precedent that anyone could obtain a variance and build additional structures on a split lot.

"The argument is over whether a lot with variances becomes a conforming lot (to city code) or whether it's non-conforming," said attorney Bill Loveland, who spoke on behalf of several residents opposing the request. "A lot with variances is non-conforming."

Westland Avenue resident Bill Harvey, who serves as city auditor, was the only resident who spoke in support of the variance request.

Harvey said he lives in a development that many neighbors previously opposed, similar to the 387 S. Parkview Ave. variance request.

"People were concerned about traffic and noise and parking," Harvey said. "The units were built, the developer persevered. The units now, I believe, are very nice. Many of the residents who, at one time, told me they were opposed have now said their opposition was unfounded. They're very comfortable with what we have. We contributed to the neighborhood."

In their deliberations, Keyes said council members considered seven key factors that they're legally required to consider when deciding on variance requests:

* Whether the property will yield a reasonable return or be of beneficial use without the variance

* Whether the variance is substantial

* Whether the variance would change the essence of the neighborhood or be detrimental to adjoining properties

* Whether the variance would affect the delivery of government services such as water, sewer and trash collection

* Whether the property owner purchased the property with knowledge of the zoning restriction

* Whether the property owner's predicament can be solved by some other method than a variance

* Whether granting the variance would adhere to the spirit of the existing zoning restriction

In addition to Keyes, council President Lori Ann Feibel and members Mary Gottesman, Monique Lampke, Troy Markham and Richard Sharp voted against the variance request. Council member Tim Madison recused himself and did not attend the hearing, citing a conflict of interest with his legal practice.

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