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Two-year permit puzzle continued at the BoA

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

It’s back to the drawing board for some Lake Austin homeowners who have yet to move into the home they purchased in 2014.

Armbrust & Brown’s Eric DeYoung represented the owners, Stone Park Trust, at the Board of Adjustment meeting earlier this month in an attempt to solve the impervious cover and permit problems at 3959 Westlake Drive.

DeYoung explained that his clients had no idea about the problems on their property when they purchased it in August 2014. At that time, they began a remodel and discovered that the home had multiple expired permits. Although they were able to resolve a number of those problems administratively, permits for the pool and deck remain open because the previous owners never conducted the final required inspection when the work was completed in 2004. As a result, the owners have not yet been able to move into their home. The city will not release a Certificate of Occupancy until the permits are finalized, and they cannot be finalized because the property has too much impervious cover.

To resolve the problems, DeYoung presented “a plan to make the best of a bad situation.” In that plan, the owners will remove 3,870 of the 20,800 square feet of impervious cover on the property – which will reduce the lot’s overall impervious cover to 38 percent. “We’ve worked at this for over two years to try to find a solution,” he said.

That effort was acknowledged by the Board of Adjustment, but it wasn’t quite enough. Board members instead voted to postpone the case to their next meeting in the hope that an even better plan would emerge.

“I appreciate the effort. It’s still a lot of impervious cover,” said Chair William Burkhardt, who also acknowledged that he didn’t see anything else that could be easily removed, aside from “one entire leg” of the U-shaped driveway.

DeYoung said the owners weren’t crazy about the idea of moving half of their driveway.

“Obviously, when people spend a significant amount of money on a house – they weren’t really thrilled with us proposing 3,800 square feet coming out, so they are really trying make a good-faith effort to really comply with, if not the letter of the code, at least the spirit, by removing 3,800 square feet of the overage,” said DeYoung.

Board Member Melissa Hawthorne said that she “wasn’t hot for” the idea of removing half the driveway, either. She urged DeYoung to make a stronger case for why it should be retained and to consider some type of stormwater treatment to offset the impervious cover.

“I understand that you are taking a lot out, and I’m sensitive to that, but there might be a series of rain gardens that could go in, that could do some treatment,” said Hawthorne. “I do think you need a little bit more – particularly some visuals as to why the driveway is sacred. … We aren’t seeing it in context.”

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