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Board rules Allandale Airstream can stay

Thursday, February 12, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

At least one home in Allandale will remain weird, though the homeowner will have to work hard to obscure it if he doesn’t want to run afoul of city code again.

Andrew Hutton was before the Board of Adjustment last December, seeking the variance that would allow him to use plants to camouflage his Airstream trailer instead of the required 6-foot fence. He has owned the home at 5010 Strass Drive since 2007.

He explained that constructing a fence or moving the Airstream from its current position would prevent him from using his carport. It could also limit access to his rear yard, utility room and the one entrance to his home.

This time, Board of Adjustment members voted 6-1 to grant the variance.

Board Member Bryan King, who was the only person to vote in opposition, said he couldn’t support the variance because of the precedent it would set.

“It’s still a trailer in the front yard,” said King. “There could be an Airstream in every yard on every block. Airstreams are cool, but sitting out in the front yard … I can’t get there.”

Board Member Melissa Hawthorne was much more receptive to the plan, saying that she had cherry laurels along the border of her own property for privacy.

“They’re 15 feet tall,” Hawthorne said. “A 6-foot fence would have been ugly by now. Those cherry laurels bloom every spring, and they are much more effective than a fence would have been.”

Further, Hawthorne pointed out that the code-required fence “wouldn’t really screen the Airstream.”

Since the last meeting, Hutton had met with Allandale Neighborhood Association president Kata Carbone at his house. He said that she “instantly saw the situation and was in support.” As a compromise, Hutton agreed to add additional plants on the side and front of the house.

The neighborhood association agreed to support the variance if the screening comprised evergreen plant material and was completed within six months.

Chair Jeff Jack said that it was “interesting” how many ways Hutton would be able to get out of the agreement he had drawn up with the neighborhood.

“The gap is that the vegetation that you install has to be full height to meet the code requirement once it’s installed. You can’t come in and plant twigs and wait for them to get up to 6 feet. It’s got to be full height to start up with,” said Jack.

Hutton explained that he planned to use pots or a large planter to screen the front view of the trailer. Jack added an amendment that stipulated that screening must also be 6 feet tall.

Photo is from the Board of Adjustment presentation

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