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Resident must remove driveway pavers
Resident must remove driveway pavers
By SUE REID
Solon City Council voted 4-3 Monday against overturning a decision by the city's planning commission to reject a driveway width variance requested by a Buckboard Lane resident.
Voting against overturning the decision were council members Susan A. Drucker, William I. Russo, Edward K. Suit and Lon D. Stolarsky. Voting in favor of granting the appeal were Councilmen Robert N. Pelunis, John T. Scott and Edward H. Kraus.
Following the first of two denials by the planning commission, the city took legal steps through Bedford Municipal Court against Robert Poje, 5970 Buckboard Lane, for failure to remove pavers he installed on each side of his driveway.
He said the pavers were to help with drainage.
But city officials said they changed the driveway width and thus put him in noncompliance with the zoning code.
Mr. Poje appealed to council prior to the vote, stating that a misdemeanor on his record would adversely affect his employment. "You can't have a misdemeanor and teach students how to drive," he said. Mr. Poje said he works as a driving instructor for National Driver Training School in Solon. "What do I have to do to clear this problem up?" he asked.
Mr. Poje originally requested and was granted a permit from the city to redo his driveway in June 2007.
"I didn't know I needed a permit to do anything else once the driveway was finished," Mr. Poje said Tuesday. "The driveway is what is supposed to be inspected. Now, you're going to tell me what I have to do once the driveway is in?"
Mr. Poje said it took him two months to put the pavers in, and he did it at his own cost. It was not until months later that he received a letter from the city's zoning department that his driveway was not in compliance with the code, he said.
Mr. Poje went before the planning commission for the first time in January 2008, and his variance request was unanimously rejected. He did not appeal at that time. "I did not know I had to do that," he said.
Mr. Poje reapplied to planning commission last fall and was denied by a vote of 4-1.
"I apologize you are here," Mr. Pelunis said to Mr. Poje. "I support your position. I think it's ridiculous we're here again on this issue. This has gone way beyond" where it needed to go, he said.
Mrs. Drucker disagreed. "We have laws on the books for a reason," she said. "It's unfortunate it's gotten so far." It is not because officials are "bullying a resident," she said, "but you had a year to clear it up."
"I still support the variance," Mr. Kraus said.
Mr. Suit agreed with Mrs. Drucker. "There's a reason the planning commission rejected this twice. Once you grant this, you are beginning down a slippery slope," he said.
"Where does it end? We have ordinances for a reason."
Planning and Community Development Director Robert Frankland said it's his office's policy to send at least four letters once a violation is discovered.
Those letters were ignored, Mr. Suit said. "This is not the city bullying a resident."
Mr. Poje said he received two of the letters, and that's when he appealed the decision.
"This is unfortunate," Mr. Scott said. "We would be putting this resident through a lot," he said of having to remove the pavers.
Mrs. Drucker said that would be like saying to residents, "Go ahead and do what you want." The whole idea is to encourage residents to get the necessary permits and go before council, she said. "But if you don't do that" and it's a year later and it presents a hardship, it's like the city saying, "Don't worry about it."
"In a perfect world, I would agree with you," Mr. Scott said. "We all know it should have gone through the planning commission." He said it's a shame that the city didn't see Mr. Poje doing the work and stop him.
"I put the pavers in so as to not wash out the driveway," Mr. Poje said. "That's what caused the first driveway over the year to wash out."
City Engineer John Busch visited the site and said the pavers are not the type of thing one wants to use to address a drainage issue. "Ultimately, I don't believe it's a good system," he said.
As a result of the vote, Mr. Poje will have to remove about half of his pavers to be in compliance with city codes. He appealed to council to extend the time he is able to do that due to the winter weather.
Mayor Kevin C. Patton said he would try to get an extension through the courts until the end of June, so the pavers can be taken out in good weather.
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