By John Schaffner

Applicants for zoning variances who have illegally done the work and then come asking for forgiveness have become so frequent at Neighborhood Planning Unit B that board member Sally Silver wants the NPU to just deny all such applications and even demand the work be undone.

Silver, who chairs the NPU-B Development & Transportation Committee and works as a staff assistant to Dist. 7 City Councilman Howard Shook, used the occasion of one request for a special exception from zoning regulations on the board’s Aug. 3 agenda to suggest the board adopt a firm policy regarding such situations.

“I am tired of people building stuff and then asking forgiveness when they should have gone through the process,” Silver said in requesting further discussion of the agenda item.

The applicant, Robert Ealy, sought the special exception from zoning regulations “to allow for an 11-foot-high wall in the side-yard setback, where such walls are restricted to 6 feet in height.” The property is located at 357 Herrington Drive N.E. in the North Buckhead neighborhood.

Zoning Committee chair Cory Tibbs told the board, “Don’t be shocked; it is not an 11-foot wall. It is actually two corner post-type columns. It has already been erected.” He said one of the conditions placed on the homeowner request was that no structure could be attached to the columns that exceeded the limitations of the zoning regulations.

Addressing the board, Silver said, “In the past, we have had a lot of things come through every neighborhood where people built something and then said, ‘Oh, we had to have a permit,’ so they come back through the process. There has to be a time when we say no,” she stated.

“I can understand the willingness to forgive when someone is new,” she said. “I even wish we had people tear down additions” because they didn’t follow the procedures, she added.

“It is really unfair to those who follow the process and go through all of the hoops, when somebody else who does not follow that and then comes back by and says, ‘Oh, I already completed the project, but now if you all will forgive me, I am going to get a permit’,” she explained.

Silver, who voted against the application, said she is willing to start voting against all such cases that come before the NPU.

In another zoning action, a special exception from zoning regulations was sought to erect a 6-foot, 4-inch fence and 1-foot, 4-inch wall and columns up to 12 feet, 8 inches in the front yard of the condominiums at 2500 Peachtree Road, where only a 4-foot fence is allowed.

The property is at the intersection of Peachtree Road and Lindbergh Avenue and includes the historic Randolph House.

That request was approved unanimously.