Appeals board approves variance request for second driveway
Board members find that hardship exists with use of property without the variance and no public harm
When it comes to stormwater runoff in the city of Medford, if it is working, leave it alone.
That was the primary justification by members of the zoning board of appeals to approve a variance request by a Venoske Lane homeowner to build a second driveway on his property.
At Tuesday evening’s board of appeals meeting, members approved a variance for Andrew Lehman to allow a second driveway on his property located at 735 Venoske Rd. The lot is zoned for single family residential use which generally limits owners to one driveway entrance of a specified size. Lehman requested a variance to add a second driveway to the property to access it off of Hawk Lane to go to a planned 24x24 foot garage. The intention, said Brian Lehman, speaking on behalf of Andrew is to build the driveway this year and lay the slab for the garage and construct the garage next year.
According to the variance request, the existing driveway cannot be extended through the yard because the main drainage from other properties in the cul de sac drain through his property going from the southwest corner to the northeast corner and into a catch basin. Extending the existing driveway would interfere with this water flow and cause flooding issues. He also noted in the request that the water and sewer lines for the property come off of Hawk Lane connecting to the house further preventing extending his existing driveway.
Mayor Mike Wellner said he spoke to city coordinator Joe Harris about the lot and the stormwater drainage through the area and was told that from a public works standpoint they would not want to disrupt the water flow in the area.
“Joe said he would rather we don’t mess with the drainage. We would be in favor of the request,” Wellner said.
City zoning administrator Bob Christensen said he also supported granting the variance for that reason. He said the process was that the homeowner sought a building permit and was denied based on the zoning code limiting residential lots to one driveway. At that point, the property owner could appeal the decision to the zoning board of appeals and ask for a variance granting an exception to the rule.
In considering a variance request, Christensen said the board members needed to answer if there was unnecessary hardship, a unique property condition and that there was no harm to the public interest.
In this case, the need to maintain existing stormwater flows through the subdivision was given as the justification for the first two questions. It was noted that the city administration was in favor of the variance and that no members of the public came to voice objections during the public hearing portion of the meeting.
“I certainly don’t see it will cause a hardship for anyone,” said board member Al Leonard.
Other board members agreed and unanimously approved the variance request.
Variance requests are rare in the city with the last time one was reviewed being in 2020.