This is a letter I sent to the Planning Board on Monday, 8/17/20 in relation to a decision they made during their July meeting.
Dear Planning Board,
I am very concerned with your recent decision to overturn the City’s recommendation to deny the Variance Petition Requests (VP-20-000102 & VP-20-000103). The requests essentially ask the city to allow the joint owners of two contiguous lots the ability to build docks that touch each other with no 12’ setbacks separating the docks as required by code.
While the property owners (joined by family ties) claim that the Variance Petition Requests were “not about a boat”, most of the discussion revolved around the difficulties the owner would have parking a 40+ foot boat on an 80 ft. lot with a normal dock configuration that conformed to 12’ side Riparian setbacks on either side of the structure.
The City Growth Management Department rightfully denied the requested variances which would set a new precedent that completely eliminates the side setbacks from the Riparian lines for two lots.
While I appreciate the Planning Board’s desire to be a good neighbor to the owner of the two lots in question and their neighbor to the south (this neighbor to the south claims that pushing the dock to the property line without a setback gives her additional space to dock her boat), what concerns me about this decision is the precedent it sets.
“Intensity” is as much a feeling of being crowded as it is a reality of bigger houses, boats, docks, and other structures encroaching on our public space. Our founders were acutely aware of the need for open space between lots, houses, docks, and boats. This “breathing room” ensures that every resident has the same sense of the water, air, space, and natural beauty of our island paradise.
Will your decision open the door for builders on land who want to extend their house sizes to the lot line? If this precedent is established on the water with docks, what is there to stop two owners from building their homes next to each other on land without any side setbacks?
My final concern has to do with the future.
If either one of these family members wants to move and decides to sell one of the properties, your decision condemns the new owners to living with a neighbor whose dock comes right to their property line. Is that what our founders envisioned? Is that the kind of intensity we want to promote moving forward?
Dr. Rich Blonna
1541 San Marco Road