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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Board of Adjustment grows weary of disputed fence case
Monday, September 19, 2011 by Elizabeth Pagano
The Board of Adjustment appears to be losing patience with a dispute over a fence that started late last year, and has yet to be resolved.
The fence in question is at 12912 Park Drive and stands about 12 feet tall. On the applicants’ side, there are inlaid fountains in the wall that borders their driveway. The neighbors’ house looks at an unfinished cinder block wall.
While several issues between the neighbors have come before the board, and have since been put to rest, the fence remains a point of contention. It is a point of contention that the Board of Adjustment seems to have grown tired of.
So tired, in fact, that Board Member Melissa Hawthorne proposed the novel solution of “indefinitely” postponing the case.
“I am really of a mind to just postpone it. Go work it out, and bring it back. This is not the arbitration for the Hatfields and the McCoys,” said Hawthorne.
She pointed out that each neighbor had already received variances from the board. “I’m very disappointed that they have to bring this before us without an agreement, and I don’t think I really want to hear it until there is an agreement,” said Hawthorne.
The motion to postpone indefinitely gathered support quickly, with some board members torn about denying the variance when the neighbors who were in opposition had previously received a variance for a larger wall themselves.
Board Member Bryan King was not torn. “I expected you all to have made a lot more progress, and for this to have been a lot closer to resolved. This case has been back here, I don’t know how many months, over and over and over again. I don’t want to keep dealing with it,” said King.
King then made a motion to deny the variance, inviting the parties to come back once they worked it out, with proof that they had worked it out.
Board Member Jeff Jack agreed, “This is the same graphic that we had back in April, and it shows us no more information… I’m not inclined to postpone it, I’m inclined to deny it, and then you can come back with the information we requested months ago. This is the fourth time this has been before us.”
Attorney Jim Bennett, who was representing applicant, explained to the board that the property owner was seriously ill, and currently in the hospital.
“It would be nice if both of these people had a 20 foot wall between the two of them. The wall is 11’9,” or 12 feet, and that seems like a pretty good barrier on this section of the wall,” said Bennett.
But with both parties unwilling to compromise, the board was not disposed to grant the variance. After determining that indefinite postponement was not, in fact, a legal option, they voted 4-3 to postpone the case to their January 9 meeting.
Board members Jeff Jack, Michael Von Ohlen, Nora Salinas and Melissa Hawthorne voted in favor of the postponement, Bryan King, Susan Morrison and Heidi Goebel voted against.
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