Wednesday, May 3, 2017

UPDATE: Neighbor structure steals privacy, Colorado Springs residents allege

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 4:49 PM

click to enlarge A new home is being built in the 1800 block of West Pikes Peak Avenue that towers over neighbors' back yards. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • A new home is being built in the 1800 block of West Pikes Peak Avenue that towers over neighbors' back yards.
Here's an explanation provided by City Planning Director Peter Wysocki via email:
The property is zoned R2 and is 7500 square feet in area. R2 zoning allows a single-family dwelling and an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) as a “use by right”, provided that the lot area is at least 6000 square feet. Therefore, in this case, the property meets the zoning requirements to have a single-family home and an ADU. Because ADUs are permitted as uses by right, no public or surrounding property owner notification is required by City Code. (The process is essentially the same as for building a single-family home.) Furthermore, this project did not seek any variances or administrative relieves [sic] that would trigger notification.

Per City Code, ADUs must me smaller in square footage than the primary house and are limited to 750 square feet. The height limit for ADUs is 25 feet. The minimum side and rear setbacks for freestanding ADUs is 5 feet.

Due to the citizen inquiry, Neighborhood Services staff went out to the site and measured the height and setbacks. They measured the building height to be approximately 22' from top to bottom. Both the side-yard setback (west) and the rear-yard setback (south) were measured at approximately 5', based on the apparent property lines.

———————ORIGINAL POST 4:49 P.M. WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 2017———————-

Andrew and Sandra Knauf are upset about a structure going up next door to their home in the 1800 block of  West Pikes Peak Avenue.

In a May 1 letter to the Regional Building Department, city officials and the media, they note they understood this project to be a cottage, but it's a two-story home with a balcony that overlooks all the backyards in the neighborhood.

Further, they say they weren't told the dimensions ahead of time and wonder why not.

"I'm hearing this is OK," Sandra Knauf tells the Independent. "They insinuated it was going to be a small cottage."

The Knaufs have owned their home for 25 years and an adjacent property for nearly 30 years. They fear the home, which they say they hear will be used as an AirBnB rental, will drive down the values of residences in the neighborhood. That's because the new building invades their privacy.

The Indy visited the primary home where the new structure is being built out back but no one came to the door after we wrapped lightly. (A sign on the door said not to knock because a baby was sleeping.)

Roger Lovell, Regional Building official, says all the requirements of his agency have been met but he couldn't speak to the city's requirements. Here's his letter to the Knaufs:
I apologize for not responding sooner I but wanted to take the time to conduct a complete investigation into your concerns. I can address your concerns from a building code perspective but not a land use perspective; the City of Colorado Springs is responsible for land use and zoning; Regional Building is responsible for building code compliance.

While I completely understand your concerns I can find no violations of the building code that would warrant a stop work order or a halt of construction. The building code regulates construction from a life safety perspective. Locally, we have adopted the International Residential Code; this code is used almost exclusively across the United States. I understand one of your concerns is fire. The building code requires any wall built closer than 5’ to a property line to be constructed as a 1hr wall without openings. In this case the walls are located 5’ from the property line and a fire rating is not required. Further, I understand your concern regarding the size and height of the structure. While the IRC does regulate height, this structure is well below the maximum threshold. There is also no restriction from a building code perspective in relation to square footage.

I should point out that land use and zoning regulations also address building setbacks, height, and possibly square footage requirements. These are addressed by the City of the Colorado Springs and I understand they are also investigating your concerns.

I am sorry I cannot help you further but I am happy to address any questions that you might have. Please keep in mind that as the Building Official for Regional Building I can only address building code related issued (as opposed to land use).
The Knaufs tell the Indy a compromise might be in the works that would involve adding a barrier to the new building so that line of sight would be restricted.

The Indy wrote about another problem the Knauf's encountered some years ago.

We've asked the city planning department if the structure is legal and will update if and when we hear something.

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