Council denies appeal for zone variance

DOWNEY - The City Council on Tuesday denied the appeal made by Downey resident Robert van der Velde to overturn a decision by the Planning Commission with regard to a possible deviation from the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) as set forth in the Downey Municipal Code for the city's single family residential zone.Van der Velde wanted to build a sitting area on the second floor of his home located on the 7800 block of Benares Street to accommodate a post-surgery recuperation period on his legs, as a means of escaping the confines of his bedroom by wheelchair. He said allowing him to construct a 217 square foot loft would let him do just that. His house falls within the zone category. The only problem with this, said the Planning Commission after reviewing the case, was that: 1) granting Van der Velde's appeal for a variance that would give him a FAR of 0.75 will result in a FAR that exceeds the city's development standards for properties in the specified zone; the zone's maximum FAR being 0.65; this would set a precedent and will result in potentially unmanageable future requests; 2) further, the Planning Commission said the existing house has been classified as a legal nonconforming use, as it was built with a FAR of 0.70, which of course is greater than the current standard of 0.65. In this regard, the Planning Commission said the proposed loft would be problematic because it would enlarge and structurally alter the house in a way that increases its nonconformity-which is against code provisions. The Council agreed with the findings of the Planning Commission, and approved its recommendation to deny the appeal. In other action, the Council: •Rejected all bids to the Fire Station No. 1 Perimeter Walls Project; •Adopted a resolution approving the appointment of Roy Beard to the Emergency Preparedness Committee for District 3; •Approved the reappointments of Dwight and Julie Simpson to the City Hospital Commission for District 4; •Approved the appointments of Andy Doyle to the Emergency Preparedness Committee, and Diane Boggs to the Water Facilities Corporation; •Selected Feb. 14 and 28, both Saturdays, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., to hold retreat meetings with city management to determine City Council goals and priorities for the coming fiscal year; •Presented the mayor's Diakonia (servant) Award to Dr. Mary Stauffer; and •Presented certificates of appointments to: Jeff McCaughan to the Recreation and Community Services Commission, District 3; Betty Conroy to the Library Advisory Board, District 5; Fernando Vasquez to the Planning Commission, District 5; Mark Hemsath to the Recreation and Community Services Commission, District 5; Rick Rodriguez, to the Emergency Preparedness Commission; and Carlos Galvan, to the Public Finance Corporation Commission. The next regular public meeting of the City Council will be at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at City Hall, 11111 Brookshire Ave. ********** Published: January 30, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 41