Conflict Takes Place At Zoning Meeting

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Last night’s monthly City of Athens Board of Zoning Appeals meeting dealt with three issues needing approval for various construction projects within Athens.

Those wishing to put additions on their homes or begin construction projects must go through the board for approval.

While most projects are approved, there are some cases that meet strong opposition from neighbors.

It was business as usual but drama ensued when the second case presented came up for approval.

Ahmed Faik of 27 Meadow Lane wished to screen in his back porch but it was the addition of a third bathroom above the porch that caused problems.

Faik brought in reinforcements, his attorney Bob Walker pointed out that the project committed no violations because it neither went past the property line nor spilled into a side yard as stated by Athens Code Enforcement.

Faik challenged the delayed status of his project after a decision earlier in the year.

Despite Faik’s project being within code, it was an issue of blocked sunlight that caused conflict.

The strongest opposition to the project was from Abby LaVelle who argued that the construction would impede on the sunlight that shone into her 91 year old father’s home who lived next door.

While her argument did not seem to hold much weight, LaVelle and several other Meadow Lane residents were adamant that the request was purely for luxury and not a necessity.

Faik then said, “This is not an issue of luxury, unlike Ms. LaVelle, I don’t have the necessary funds to purchase another home like she had for her father, if my parents visit, I need the extra room.”

However one missing testimony was the key element Faik needed to have his project approved.

The zoning board wanted approval from the property developer who was not present before making a decision.

A code enforcement member attested to the developer allowing the project upon the board’s approval.

“This is not an issue of trust,” said zoning board member Greg Lavelle, “I just need him here in person to say that.”

The case presented was the longest of the night and ended in an uncommon 3-2 split between board members.

Faik’s request was tabled once again pending approval from the property developer.

Betty Hollow said that under her term on the board, an issue had never been tabled twice until last night’s meeting.

After the meeting Greg LaVelle said that it doesn’t necessarily matter how many people show up for each side of an argument but whether or not that side meets the 6 criteria for approval of a project:

1. Exceptional Circumstances

2. Practical Difficulty

3. Minimum Variance

4. Lack of Detriment

5. Undo Hardship

6. Equal Property Rights


*No relation between Abby LaVelle and Greg LaVelle