For the week of June 3 thru June 9, 1998  


Hillside home works new rules

Express Staff Writer

After the first firing of Blaine County’s Hillside Ordinance, approving a Croesus Creek home, some neighbors say the planning and zoning commission missed its mark.

"It was a major violation of the intent of the law," nearby resident Ivar Lovaas said. "Let’s just say it was not a friendly meeting."

The Thursday P&Z approval of the oxidized, corrugated steel exterior of Robert Dix’s proposed three-story high, 4,000-square foot residence in Croesus Creek was hasty and ill-informed, protested Lovaas.

The Dix house lies in a zone where building is constrained by the Hillside Ordinance, called the Mountain Overlay District.

"There’s no question that house will interrupt the skyline, which is a major deviation of the intention of the Mountain Overlay District," Lovaas said.

Other than requiring Dix lower his roof-line four feet, the P&Z approved the original plans after wrestling with the Hillside Ordinance new design standards for two hours.

P&Z Chair Cindy Mann, pleased with both the design review and the ordinance, said the two-hour look at the Dix house was right on target.

"There was a lot of give and take on both sides," Mann said. "I think it’s hard for anyone who has a change next to them to feel good about it, but we felt that the design review criteria worked very well."

Dix’s presentation to the P&Z, especially his display of a portion of the corrugated steel exterior fabric and a scale model of the residence aided the P&Z in its decision.

"I’m trying to build a home that is going to blend in as naturally as possible," Dix said at the hearing, waving the piece of the gray steel.

Visibility is a major component of the new Hillside Ordinance, which rules building on sloped land.

The law’s approval in January marked the end of eight years’ travail to author a working ordinance to serve environmental, aesthetic, and safety concerns for hillside structures.

Even with the lower roof, the house will still be visible from some points of Croesus Creek Road, Lovaas said.

Another neighbor who lives closer to the mouth of the quiet draw, Kaye Bradley, said, "We don’t want to stop people from coming, but when they do come [we ask] that they follow the laws and aren’t damaging our property."

Disagreement also touched on the weathered metal exterior, which the P&Z likened to mining structures and neighbors present disliked.

Lovaas criticized that siding material as being unlike any other in the valley and more common to an area where, "artists and assorted free-thinkers are attracted to."

He draws concern from experiences living and teaching near the University of California at Los Angeles’ over-built seaside hills.

"That’s a horrible sight," he said.

Lovaas holds his protest is anything but an instance of "not-in-my-back-yard." Before moving into his current home four years ago, he tried to build a house in Croesus Creek, unsuccessfully.

"I feel embarrassed owning this house, but if I hadn’t bought it someone else would’ve," Lovaas said. "When we tried to build our own home, we were told there was not enough water in the bedrock."

Lovaas said his well drops about 300 feet from ground-level.

Neighbors will have an opportunity to appeal the Dix house approval for 20 days after June 11, when this meeting’s "Findings of Fact" are presented, county planner Linda Haavik said.


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