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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Out-of-bounds Hyde Park remodel gets no relief from Board of Adjustment
Monday, July 15, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano
The members of the Board of Adjustment may have had sympathy, but they had no variance for the owners of a remodel gone wrong in Hyde Park.
Kelly Cazales, owner of the property at 4708 Avenue H, built 7 feet 8 inches too far into the setback, according to the city code. She was seeking a variance that would allow the addition to stand, and explained that the problem was the result of an honest mistake that had quickly turned into the worst experience in her life.
In the end, her story only swayed five members of the board to vote in her favor. Board Members Melissa Hawthorne and Will Schnier voted in opposition. Board of Adjustment rules required six votes to pass the variance. It was denied by a 5-2 vote.
Cazales said she hadn’t had any luck working things out with her neighbor, Pat Tulinski, since the case was postponed at the last Board of Adjustment meeting. In fact, during that time, Tulinski has filed a suit in district court.
“The only option that she’s really given us is to pay her $77,000 to not appear today and not oppose today’s hearing. So, at this point we feel cornered and ultimately feel that the situation is getting worse rather than improving since this whole ordeal started,” said Cazales. “We’re getting the feeling that the only thing that will satisfy her is if we tear the thing down or pay her.”
Though Tulinski had previously signed a statement supporting a variance, she explained that was before she understood the entire story, and she had been mislead by her neighbors, who told her that the addition was legally grandfathered.
Cazales explained that she did not intentionally misinform Tulinski, but asked for her support before she understood what was going on. Initially, Cazales thought the variance would be for 8 inches, not 7 feet 8 inches, which is actually the case.
Tulinski told the board that the additional encroachment into the setback places the new structure’s wall just 17 inches from her property, and even closer if measurements are taken from the roof overhand. Additionally, she explained that changes to the roof conspired with the proximity to funnel water directly at her foundation when it rains and casts a shadow over her yard.
“This has a substantial and material affect on my property,” said Tulinski. “I honestly think that I could stand on my side of the property line and possibly open their back door.”
Tulinkski said that the applicants were responsible for the predicament that they found themselves in, saying Cazales chose to be her own general contractor.
“Had a professional general contractor or architect been hired, this situation would likely never have occurred. This is a self-inflicted wound,” said Tulinski.
Cazales readily agreed to install gutters to fix the water problem, and said that her plans were stamped by the city and an engineer. She also said she had “tons of evidence” to back up their use of a general contractor.
Board members expressed dismay that the problem wasn’t caught until the framing inspection.
“This has been the worst experience of our lives,” said Cazales. She explained that her and her husband had been living in “one cramped room with no kitchen, surrounded by sawdust and sheet rock,” for the past three months as they had tried to figure out what to do.
“This has affected our whole life: our marriage, our jobs, our children, my parents and their jobs, and our mental and financial health,” said Cazales. “Our neighbor has accused us of being some pretty nervy things in her lawsuit. My husband and I are honest, good, and reasonable people. We never had any intention of hurting our neighbor or anyone else in the community.”
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