CITY OF COLUMBIA
BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS MINUTES
JANUARY 13, 2009 - 10:00 AM
In attendance: Elizabeth Webber-Webber-Akre, Chris Barczak, Ernest W Cromartie, III, Silas Calhoun
McMeekin, III, Patrick Hubbard, Preston Young
Staff: Marc Mylott, Johnathan Chambers, C. Michael Conley, and Andrea Wolfe
I. CALL TO ORDER and DETERMINATION OF QUOROM
Elizabeth Webber-Webber-Akre, chairperson, called the meeting to order at 10:00 AM, introduced Board
of Zoning Appeals (BOZA) members; City Staff; and explained the purpose and role of the BOZA of
Zoning Appeals. Protocol of the Consent Agenda and Regular Agenda was explained. Sworn testimony
of those intending to speak was taken.
Johnathan Chambers, Deputy Zoning Administrator, reviewed general housekeeping rules. He noted that
items #2 and #3 under the Regular Agenda have been withdrawn by the applicant, no action is required.
Review of the Consent Agenda by Mr. Chambers began.
II. CONSENT AGENDA
A. OLD BUSINESS
B. NEW BUSINESS
1. 09-002-SE Dist. 1 614 Blanding Street (TMS#09010-12-06). Special exception to
establish a day care facility (Quties’) (Zoned RG-3, DD).
Motion by Mr. McMeekin to approve Consent Agenda items 1 and 2 subject to any conditions that may
be found within the case summary for that application and to adopt as the findings of the BOZA, those
findings in each case prepared by Staff, also found within each case summary; seconded by Mr.
Cromartie. Motion carries 6-0.
III. REGULAR AGENDA
A. OLD BUSINESS
2. 08-098-AA Dist. 4 4125 & 4125½ Linwood Road (TMS#13910-10-07).
Administrative Appeal of the Zoning Administrator’s decision
regarding a non-conforming certificate (Zoned RS-1).
Note: Applicant has withdrawn this case.
3. 08-101-SE Dist. 3 3030 Devine Street (TMS#13804-16-05). Special exception to
establish a veterinary hospital (Four Paws Animal Clinic) (Zoned
Note: Applicant has withdrawn this case.
Board of Zoning Appeals – January 13, 2009 Page 1
B. NEW BUSINESS
4. 09-001-V Dist. 1 1318 Geiger Avenue (TMS#09114-06-03). Amendment to a
previously granted variance to the secondary front yard setback
to reconfigure an addition to a single family residence (Zoned
Johnathan Chambers, Deputy Zoning Administrator, stated this request was previously presented to the
BOZA in September 2008 and a variance was granted. A zoning permit was issued and the applicant
began construction. In the middle of construction, the applicant changed the plan to incorporate a second
story open deck, which is the plan being presented today, which was not approved by the BOZA. The
previous plan for a single one-story deck was approved by the BOZA. The Cottontown/Bellevue Historic
District Neighborhood and resident of the area provided letters stating they are in opposition to the
request. Mr. Chambers stated that the applicant has provided examples of other second story open
porches throughout the neighborhood and downtown Columbia in packets for review.
Howard Hunt, owner of project, said the Cottontown board disapproved the project in a 3-2 vote
referencing the original setback requirement, but he has not changed the footprint of the plan. He
admitted his error in going forward and changing the plan which was not approved and has caused the
project to shut down at this time.
Mr. Hunt presented photos of second story decks for comparison in the City of Columbia and in
Cottontown for Board review. He said that the Cottontown board has approved double decks for modular
homes. His immediate neighbors are in approval of the deck and thought it would be an improvement.
Mr. Hunt said no one on the Cottontown board ever questioned his project or came to look at what was
There are some historic houses in the neighborhood with decks similar to what he is building. Mr.
Barczak said he feels the new plan is better and recommended the applicant meet with City Preservation
Staff to discuss the project and design. Mr. Hunt questioned the time frame involved to do this and said
he does not want any further delay. Mr. Barczak said he did not think this would need to be presented to
the D/DRC and is suggesting that a D/DRC Staff recommendation should be given. Mr. Mylott said that
Staff has concerns with the criteria for variance setbacks not being met, regardless of the design of the
porch. Mr. Barczak said he felt it was important to have the opinion of the City Preservation Staff on this.
Mr. Cromartie stated in regard to having historical staff involved; he is looking at the criteria for a
variance and has concerns with bringing in an additional element to the criteria. Mr. Barczak said Mr.
Hunt has already received approval for the encroachment issue. Ms. Webber-Akre reviewed for
clarification that the original request for variance was regarding secondary front yard setbacks. The issue
today is because the plan was changed from the original design thought the footprint remained the same.
This is more of an aesthetic issue and that the applicant did not build what was approved. The addition of
a second story does not change the variance approval that was already granted.
Mr. Mylott stated it is a matter of who the contractor is and who is authorized to do the work. If the
proper individuals do the work, the original plan may be used again. Mr. Hunt questioned why he was
not told this earlier so he could resume work on the original project. Mr. Chambers asked Mr. Hunt if
there is a signed contract for the contractor to go back to work on this piece of property. Mr. Hunt said he
does not have a signed contract; there is a verbal agreement with the contractor. The contractor will not
agree to a signed contract until he can complete the project as shown in the new design. Mr. Chambers
said the reason for his question is that Mr. Hunt stated the City would not allow him to go back to the
original proposed as approved plan. The situation is that the permit was issued to a particular individual
as the contractor and Mr. Hunt is actually doing the work. There is an issue with the contractor and who
is actually doing the work. The person doing the actual work is not the one who received the permit. Mr.
Hunt cannot say he will go back to the original plan as approved by the BOZA because he is not the
contractor of record nor does he have the authority to do the work. To go back to the original approval,
Board of Zoning Appeals – January 13, 2009 Page 2
the contractor of record will need to give a contract to the City saying he is in full control of the job and
he will be working on the project. The permit would then be updated and work could be resumed. Mr.
Hunt asked why he was not contacted with this information and the contractor of record was given the
information. If a contract was in place, it would have already been presented. Mr. Hunt is in a verbal
agreement with the contractor so he can do his own work on the house to save money. Mr. Mylott said
the project could be delayed further if the building official is asked to inform the BOZA exactly what was
done that should not have been. Mr. Hubbard asked if what Mr. Hunt is saying is that the contractor is
waiting for today’s decision and the variance previously granted is still valid; then the contractor who is
to do the work could do so and proceed under the permit. Mr. Mylott said that is true, if there is a
licensed contractor to do the work and the building official feels they have met compliance. Another
licensed contractor can pick up the work and finish the project as long as he takes responsibility for the
work already done.
Ms. Webber-Akre reviewed the application presented saying Mr. Hunt is here to request a modification of
the original plan to build the porch. If the BOZA prefers the original plan approved, the contractor can be
made aware this variance has been and is still valid, and he could deliver a contract to the City as soon as
possible. She asked Mr. Hunt if he would be willing to modify what has already been done and go back
to the original plan as approved. Mr. Hunt said he will do so if it is necessary. Ms. Webber-Akre stated
in reviewing the variance criteria, there is not a hardship that requires the porch to be there; therefore the
original variance is the ‘framework’ he must work within. Mr. Barczak again said if there is an
opportunity to have the plan reviewed by the preservation staff, why would it not be done. Mr. Hunt said
if he can work on what has already been approved once a contract is in place, he will wait on preservation
staff to approve the deck. Mr. Mylott said that cannot be done; all of the process must be followed. Staff
requests a vote of approval or denial be made. Mr. Barczak said he personally does not feel it will take
[preservation] staff a very long time to review and get an answer. Mr. Hunt said it would be fine if he can
get an answer from preservation staff within a week. He will get a contract in as soon as possible for
review to move forward or return to the original plans, and building can resume on Monday. Mr. Mylott
stated he cannot say if the building inspector will authorize ‘going back to work’ unless it is a permit for
(could not hear Mr. Mylott’s other words because Mr. Barczak overspoke – Johnathan help??!).
Ellen Cooper, past president of Cottontown Neighborhood and current board member of Cottontown, said
the board voted 7-1 with two abstentions against recommending approval of the new plan versus what had
been approved. They knew what was approved and what was not approved. The board preferred the look
of the original plan and had no objection to that plan. When asked by Mr. Barczak, Ms. Cooper said she
would not have any objection to having preservation staff review the plan, but they are a long way from
having historic designation approved. Ms. Cooper said the board’s decision was not based on acquiring
historic designation approval for design.
Mr. Hubbard said he has concerns delegating this case to the staff of another commission, D/DRC, to
make a decision which should be made by the BOZA; it is the Board’s responsibility. Decisions may be
made by another board that would not be proper. Mr. Barczak said he would make a motion for approval
upon a satisfactory recommendation by preservation staff as they are qualified to decide if the addition is
proper for the neighborhood. Mr. McMeekin said a decision must be made on what is currently in place,
not on future considerations. If the decision is regarding the aesthetics of modification for the originally
permitted motion, he feels it does fit with the character [neighborhood] and based on other projects
approved by various boards/commissions/neighborhood associations; is consistent. Mr. Barzcak said he
felt comfortable making the motion without remanding it to [preservation] staff, but the main
neighborhood concern was with aesthetics.
Motion by Mr. Barczak to approve the application for amendment to the variance granted in September
2008 to allow the change in plans for 1318 Geiger Avenue (TMS#09114-06-03), Mr. Hubbard said he
was not on the board for the previous vote and feels the criteria is not being applied accordingly; ie,
exceptional conditions do not generally apply, effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of the
property, etc. Added to the motion were the following findings: it falls within the general intent of the
Board of Zoning Appeals – January 13, 2009 Page 3
original variance approved, there are not other concerns with the other criteria, and the aesthetics are an
improvement. Mr. Barczak stated the reasoning behind the restriction of use and extraordinary conditions
are based on two factors that play into the original decision. The property is on a corner lot and
secondary side yard setbacks must be dealt with; and the house was built pre-zoning and already
encroaches on the side yard setback and the proposal aligns with the existing house. Motion seconded by
Mr. Cromartie asked Mr. Barczak what extraordinary exceptional conditions for the addition existed and
what is unique about the land or topography that applies to the addition as opposed to what was
previously approved. Mr. Barczak said he does not feel it is the intent of ordinances to restrict the
homeowners from making additions or enlarging a home. Consideration must be given when homes that
are already built, could not have been built as they are now. If an addition were put on the original home,
it would have had to have been modified and it would not be very attractive. The extraordinary
circumstance is that the ordinances and codes were brought into place substantially after original
construction versus new construction. Mr. Cromartie asked Staff for clarification that in discussing a
variance and looking for extraordinary exceptions or conditions, it meant sometime unique to the four
corners of the lot. Mr. Mylott said that is what he remembers from the training provided to
Boards/Commissioners in the conference room.
In favor of the motion by Mr. Barczak to approve the modification to the original variance approval
for 1318 Geiger Avenue (TMS#09114-06-03) are Mr. Barczak and Mr. McMeekin. Opposed to the
motion are Mr. Young, Mr. Cromartie, Ms. Webber-Akre, and Mr. Hubbard. Motion fails 2-4.
Mr. Barczak said he feels additional board discussion is needed. It is important to have character of the
area in place. Ms. Webber-Akre stated a variance was approved and was not followed. The application
and plan was approved. The modification is not required by any exceptional condition and does not
restrict use of property. Nothing has changed regarding the encroachment itself.
Motion by Mr. Barczak to accept the variance and uphold the original decision and change the
decision based on approval of preservation staff if they feel the design is acceptable. Mr. Cromartie
stated, for the record, that he does not like making decisions of the Board of Zoning Appeals contingent
upon approval of other parties. There was no second to this motion; therefore the motion fails.
Mr. Hubbard said he would like clarification in a letter sent to the applicant to state what the applicant
may do as his rights and to proceed in a proper fashion. Mr. Mylott said he does not know if a letter can
be sent with board comments if the case is denied. A letter can be done based on the building inspector’s
findings and recommendations. Mr. Hubbard again said he feels clarification should be given to the
Ms. Webber-Akre stated for clarity, the motion fails and the original application is still in effect.
No alternative motions were made, the application made today is denied, and the original plan
stands. The contractor can continue work and file the necessary contracts/paperwork with staff.
Mr. Barczak asked, in all fairness to applicants, if staff requires all changes made to plans must be
presented, why all minor changes are not present. He asked if there is a threshold of changes made that
are required by Staff to be presented. Mr. Mylott stated if he is made aware of any changes, he will
present them. Mr. Barczak added he feels there must be consistency in enforcement.
IV. OTHER BUSINESS
Approve December 9, 2008 Minutes.
Motion to approve the December 9, 2008 minutes by Ms. Webber-Akre. Motion carries 6-0.
Board of Zoning Appeals – January 13, 2009 Page 4
Election of officers.
At this time, Marc S. Mylott, AICP , Director of Planning and Development Services/Zoning
Administrator explained the Board’s rules regarding the election of officers. Motion by Mr. McMeekin
to extend Ms. Elizabeth Webber-Webber-Akre, the current chair’s term, for another year. Seconded by
Mr. Cromartie, and Mr. Barczak gave a third on the motion. Motion carries 6-0.
Ms. Webber-Webber-Akre opened the election for Vice-Chair for 2009. Motion by Mr. Barczak to
nominate Mr. Hubbard, seconded by Mr. Cromartie. Motion carries 6-0.
After the election of officers was held, Mr. Mylott announced that Ms. Webber-Webber-Akre will serve
as Chair and Mr. Hubbard will serve as Vice-Chair of Board of Zoning Appeals Chairperson for year
Mr. Mylott announced Congratulations to Ms. Elizabeth Webber-Webber-Akre for being named the
Central Carolina Realtors Association 2008 Realtor of the Year.
Rules have been amended and have been forwarded to the Legal Department for review. As soon as they
are finalized and received, they will be presented to the BOZA. Voting procedures will be amended, and
a clause has been added regarding attendance issues stating “this works in conjunction with the rules for
all Boards and Commissions established by City Council”. This information will be sent to all BOZA
There being no further business to discuss, motion to adjourn at 10:55 AM by Ms. Webber-Akre.
Respectfully submitted by Andrea Wolfe
Sr. Admin. Secretary
Planning and Development Services Department
City of Columbia
Board of Zoning Appeals – January 13, 2009 Page 5