At Monday night's Town Council meeting, the council denied a wall waiver request to the residents of the Tiffany Place condominium subdivision, who have been requesting permission to replace the brick wall between their neighborhood and the Maple Avenue Shopping Center with a vinyl wall. The wall is crumbling and has been found to lack a proper footer.
A zoning ordinance requires that such walls must be constructed from ornamental masonry. However, the homeowners feel such a replacement would be an undue financial burden. The lowest bid for a brick wall for the neighborhood came in at just over $80,000, while the lowest bid for a vinyl wall was about $37,500. The cost will be split between 26 households.
The Tiffany Place Unit Owners Association made a similar request regarding their wall in 2003, and it was processed as a wall waiver request and denied, said Planning and Zoning Director Greg Hembree. When they brought the question up this year, the town again followed the process for a wall waiver request. The request was denied recommendation by the Planning Committee, and the Town Council deferred a decision at their last meeting.
However, said Hembree, as questions were raised by council members, more information was unearthed regarding the circumstances of the wall's original construction, which predates the Department of Planning and Zoning.
The town found that the wall was originally required as a term of a proffer agreement allowing the original owner of the residential property increase its maximum housing density. Normally, such a wall would be the responsibility of the commercial property, but the proffer places responsibility on Tiffany Place.
The council concluded that the change could not be enacted as a wall waiver request, but would have to be pursued as a proffer amendment. The homeowners now have the option of returning to the Planning Commission to begin the process of requesting a proffer amendment.
Council members expressed regret that residents had wasted time and filing fees on the wrong course of action, through no fault of their own. Councilmember Laurie Cole asked that future filing fees, if there are any, be waived. However, Town Attorney Steve Briglia informed her that such waivers can only be granted to nonprofit organizations.
"I think you probably realize that the vote was reluctant, but our hands are tied by the ordinance," Mayor Jane Seeman told Tiffany Place residents.
— Mike DiCicco