Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Contractor removing illegal construction

Setbacks, concrete deck are among code violations

Express Staff Writer

Extensive work has been happening at 531 N. Spruce Ave. in Ketchum to bring the residence into compliance with city code. Photo by Roland Lane

    A Ketchum property owner has begun to demolish parts of a house on Spruce Avenue due to previous construction done in violation of the city’s building code.
    Following an eight-year dispute between the city and a former owner of the property at 531 N. Spruce Ave., contractor Robert Barrow began the work shortly after he obtained a demolition permit at the end of May.
    In a May 21 letter to Barrow’s neighbors, city planner Rebecca Bundy said Barrow would demolish a too-tall concrete deck on the south and rear of the house, the second and third floor of the house to meet setback requirements, the deck encroachment on the Spruce Avenue right of way and parts of a concrete site wall that exceed 6 feet. Though the garage walls also do not conform to city code, he is permitted to keep them since they are the original walls of the structure and were built before current codes.
    He is also removing kitchen components and cabinets in two of the house’s three kitchens to meet the single-family-home zoning regulation.
    According to a message sent to Bundy by Street Superintendent Brian Christiansen in February, the house’s drainage system will have to be re-engineered.
    Barrow bought the property in 2012 following almost a decade of construction-related disagreements between the city and then-homeowner Bruce Pedersen. Pedersen applied for a building permit for an addition to an existing home in August 2003 but began construction without a permit, a Feb. 24, 2014, staff report states. Multiple zoning and building-code violations occurred and two stop-work orders were issued in 2003 and 2007, city records show. Despite the city orders, the builder continued construction on the interior of the home, the report said. Pedersen unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a waiver of the violations in 2010.
    The property went into foreclosure in 2011 and Barrow bought the property knowing he’d need to act upon numerous compliance problems. With his attorney, Jim Laski, and architect, Thomas Dabney, Barrow submitted a variance application in December 2013 for setbacks, property barriers and size regulations, according to a Feb. 5 letter to the city from Laski. The application was denied.
    “You have to meet all of the criteria,” Bundy said. “There are about eight. He was only able to meet about half of the criteria.”
    Rather than appeal to the Ketchum City Council, Bundy said, Barrow elected to carry out demolition on nonconforming structures.
Amy Busek:

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