David Grenat

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David Grenat


Staff Report


David Grenat


Staff Report


Petitioner, who is also the owner, is requesting a variance to allow a 1’ side setback on the west property line instead of the required 6’ setback for a proposed 12’ x 19’ carport on property located at 1334 Sunset Lane. The property is located in Grand View Heights Subdivision, West Lafayette, Wabash 18 (NE) 23-4. (UZO 4-2-2)


This property is currently zoned Single Family Residential (R1). It is located just east of Grant Street in West Lafayette in a large residential area in Grand View Heights Subdivision. R1 zoning surrounds the site on all sides. According to the County Assessor’s records, this home was built in the 1930s.

Since the adoption of the current ordinance, two variances have been requested and granted in this area. Both were setback variances; the first variance, BZA-1542, was to reduce a rear setback from 25’ to 12’ so that a garage could be built. The second variance, BZA-1590, was to permit a street frontage setback of 10’ instead of the required 25’ so a new home could be constructed.

This large core area of West Lafayette has been single family residential since the area was developed in the late 1920s.


Sunset Lane is a local road; the two required paved parking spaces for a residential use are present, one is in the garage and there is room for the other in the drive. The required setback for a local road is 25’. However, this subdivision has a 40’ platted setback along Sunset. Based on GIS aerial photography this building does not meet the platted setback and appears to be located approximately 35’ from the front lot line. Most of the dwellings on the north side of Sunset Lane have two car garages.

Because the front setback exceeds the ordinance required setback and does not block the view of neighbors exiting their driveways this request would not have and adverse effect on traffic.


The site is served by city utilities. A 10’ wide utility easement, given to “public service utilities,” exists between petitioner’s property and the neighbor to the west; 5’ of the easement is platted on each lot. Structures are not permitted to be built in an easement, however the proposed carport addition is shown over this easement and petitioner will need to vacate the easement before obtaining a building permit. Additionally, petitioner built a privacy fence in the easement.

Because petitioner never submitted a full site plan that included a layout of the entire site, staff was unable to check the rest of the requirements for R1 development such as green space and lot coverage.


This request is based solely on petitioner’s desire to cover a parking spot; the ordinance-required 2 parking spaces for the single-family dwelling are already on-site. The current layout of the lot and existing structure dictate that this is the only reasonable location for a covered parking spot. The proposed 1’ setback does not provide sufficient room to maintain the west side of the carport. There is nothing unusual or unique about this lot that would dictate a favorable recommendation for this request. The lot area is over 12,000 sq. ft., the minimum area for a R1 lot is 10,000 sq. ft., the lot has the required parking available and the topography of the site does not create a special circumstance or hardship.

There is a 5’ utility easement platted on the west property line. Structures are not permitted to be built over an easement. In order to construct the addition, petitioner must vacate the easement. Petitioner must obtain from the utility companies, including West Lafayette Sewer, a release of their interest in the easement. Petitioner would then need to follow the statutory process for easement vacation with the West Lafayette City Council. If this process is completed, the West Lafayette’s Engineer Office will require the addition meet all building and fire codes using fire rated materials since the carport is closer than 3 feet from the property line.
Additionally, this subdivision was platted with large 40’ front setbacks; the ordinance currently requires only a 25’ setback on local roads. In order for the petitioner to construct this carport as submitted in this request, a replat is necessary to reduce the platted front setback to at least 35’ (the setback of the current and proposed structure). This can be addressed through the replatting process.
Regarding the ballot items:

  1. The Area Plan Commission September 17, 2008 determined that the variance requested IS NOT a use variance.

And it is staff’s opinion that:

  1. Granting this variance WILL be injurious to the public health, safety, and general welfare of the community. In general, staff has used the fire department’s standard of a 10’ separation distance between buildings as necessary to prevent a fire from jumping rooflines and to provide adequate room for emergency personnel. If the property owner to the west were to erect a building at the minimum setback, the carport addition as proposed does not provide adequate separation from the property to the west.

  2. Use and value of the area adjacent to the property included in the variance request WILL NOT be affected in a substantially adverse manner. Granting this variance would not affect the neighboring properties continued use as a single-family residence. Allowing this addition would not be detrimental and would not prevent neighbors from making improvements to their property.

  3. Since there is nothing about this lot’s size, shape or topography that makes it unusual to this R1 zoning district, the terms of the zoning ordinance are being applied to a situation that IS common to other properties in the same zoning district.

  4. Strict application of the terms of the zoning ordinance WILL NOT result in an unusual or unnecessary hardship as defined in the zoning ordinance. The petitioner has the required parking spaces on the lot and there is nothing in the zoning ordinance that guarantees the parking spaces are covered; this is a self imposed situation.

Note: Questions 5a. and 5b. need only be answered if a hardship is found in Question 5 above.

5a. Because it is petitioner’s desire to have an additional covered parking space, the hardship involved IS self-imposed; and

5b. The variance sought DOES NOT provide only the minimum relief needed to alleviate the hardship because the two ordinance-required parking spaces already exist.


If approved, the following conditions must be met prior to issuance of an Improvement Location Permit from the West Lafayette Engineer’s office:

1. The addition will need to meet all building and fire codes (fire rated construction materials) since the proposed setback is closer than 3 feet to the property line and must remain a non-enclosed structure per the submitted site plan;

2. Petitioner shall submit a site plan to APC staff so that a review of building and vegetative coverage requirements can be completed before petitioner applies for an Improvement Location Permit;

3. The 5’ utility easement on the west side of the property must be vacated and the 40’ front setback must be replatted prior to obtaining an Improvement Location Permit.

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