Mar. 9th, 2016

turbogrrl: (robotcoffee)
We had our hearing yesterday. I fell asleep on the sofa at like 9pm the night before, and had a super-early doctors appointment, so while I had checked our case during the day on Monday, I was sitting in the hearing room a few minutes before the theoretical start at 0930 before I remembered to check the case record again.

Of course, our next-door neighbor (the one that sold us the place) had filed an objection at the 11th hour.

I sighed, downloaded it, and sent it to all of us (nick, our architect, her assistant). And then gnawed on my knuckles, and fretted. and waited. and waited. And, of course, he eventually showed up. Fortunately, our architect also eventually showed up.

And then we waited some more. We were supposed to go third, but apparently they had continuances from other cases so we ended up going around 6th, at a little after noon. I was really worried they would break for lunch before they even got to us.

His objection rested on two points: our plans appeared to show that we were using the steel ibeams and he thought that putting our second story on those beams would tear his wall down. And our plans would result in closing up four of his windows in the party wall, and he objected on the basis that his building is historic and was there first, and we would be occluding his light and air. It was his understanding that in terms of party walls "Neither owner can use the wall in a manner that impairs the other's easement or interferes with his or her property rights."

Mostly I was annoyed that I didn't see it that morning, so that I could have at least brought the evidence that three of those windows were added 50 years later, based on a lie on the building permit. (1945 permit states "NOT a party wall", as you aren't allowed to *put* windows in a party wall. Because they might get bricked over later.)

As it turns out, it wasn't necessary. We didn't even need to confront him; the board did nearly all the work for us. They let him speak for three minutes (he filed two weeks too late to be granted party status). Regarding the beams, the board passed the mic to our architect, who assured the board that we were working with a structural engineer, who had already visited the site, examined the beams, and the load had already been calculated and found to be good.

Regarding the windows, they went around in circles for a while trying to determine how his building was constructed ("what is on the other side of your building?" on the other side of their structure there is another building. "No, on the other side of YOUR building" I don't follow. "Your building has four walls. One is the party wall under discussion. What are the others." My building only has one party wall. [Actually, his building has two, but no matter. The point being he has an entire 95' unobstructed south-facing wall full of windows. They eventually got there.]) The board informed him of the concept of "at-risk" windows. ("I didn't know that applied to party walls.") They then asked if there was anything else we wanted to say. Having gotten the hint from them telling us we didn't need to go through the presentation, we declined to add anything to the record. They took the vote, and it passed 4-0-2 (two seats on the board are vacant).

And that was that. No discussion of our second story percentage. (Janet was worried they would try to make us keep the second story to 60%, but since our lot coverage is already at 100% that really makes no legal sense. Still, one never knows. I wrote our statement rather than paying a zoning lawyer $5000 to do it, so we didn't have legal representation, just our architect. Fortunately that worked out.) So we now we just need to pick a contractor, and start on the permits.

And after that, we had lunch and then I went to work for four hours.

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