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County Board of Appeals Decision Denies Variance in Garage Construction Case

Annapolis, Maryland (May 27, 2008) - The Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals, whose members are appointed by members of the County Council, voted 6-0 to uphold a decision by the Administrative Hearing Officer to deny a variance regarding a request by Mr. John Getz to perfect and complete construction of a garage with greater height than allowed in the Anne Arundel County Code.

Director of Inspections and Permits, Elizabeth Dixon said, "The Board of Appeals confirmed the decision of the Administrative Hearing Officer, that there is no evidence that this case was one of exceptional circumstance or posed an unnecessary hardship for Mr. Getz."

The Board found that the Department of Inspections’ granting of the permit, which was later revoked because of the excessive height of the structure, was not an exceptional circumstance or cause of unnecessary hardship for the Petitioner John Getz. Further, the Board stated that the Department of Inspections and Permits acted properly in revoking the permit once the error was determined and "followed clear cut zoning regulations."

In order to grant a variance, the Petitioner must satisfy each and every requirement of the Code (Section 3-1-207). Failure to meet one of the variance criteria results in a denial of the request. Mr. Getz was found to have not met his burden of proof relative to the requested variance.

Mr. Getz received a permit to build an accessory structure in September 2006. He revised his plan in August 2007 to accommodate a stairwell as opposed to pull down stairs and was granted a permit even though County Code prohibits an accessory structure to be greater than the height of the principal improvement on the property or 25 feet, whichever is less. The Department of Inspections and Permits quickly revoked the permit once it was determined the oversight. However, the construction of the structure was completed.

A number of Mr. Getz’s neighbors, including the President of the Rippling Estates Homeowners Association, testified at the hearing that the height of the structure has a negative impact on the character of the community and their quality of life as the structure interferes with the overall view.

The Board’s decision means that Mr. Getz will have to reduce the height of his accessory structure by 4 feet and 3 inches.


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