Zoning Board: Stearns Point pool proposal sees opposition at ZBA

TED HILLS PHOTO | The shed that owners recently discovered barely encroaches into the required setback.

The Zoning Board heard two requests at its March 23 hearing, one for multiple variances to construct a backyard pool and one for relief from a setback requirement for an already-constructed shed.

Board members didn’t like certain aspects of the pool plan, but responded positively to leaving the shed where it is. Board members Peter Ruig and Patricia Shillingburg were absent from the meeting.


The board reheard Jill and Ken Wilson’s variance request to install a 44- by 10-foot lap pool with a partial 3-foot-wide surrounding walkway in their backyard. The proposed pool and walkway require relief of 4 feet from the southerly sideyard setback and 3.5 feet varying to 4 feet from the westerly backyard setback. The existing patio would require relief of 13 feet from the northerly frontyard set-back.

The Wilsons’ home is zoned A-residential, which requires side- and backyard setbacks of 20 feet for pools. Once the Wilsons’ existing patio abuts a newly-constructed pool, however, that patio also needs to conform to the 20-foot pool setback, requiring the 13-foot-variance. The need for an additional variance for the patio was not addressed by the applicant or board members in the initial hearing on January 26.

Mr. Wilson presented drawings that showed the proposed pool’s higher elevation relative to Shore Road and his neighbor to the west. “It’s impossible to see,” he said. The application received a letter of support from the Wilsons’ neighbor to the south, whose property is at the same elevation.

The proposed pool would be flanked on its east side in part by a screened porch less than a foot from the pool and on the west side by 3 feet of walkway connecting to a retaining wall. The pool would encroach 6 feet into an existing patio to the north.

Board member Doug Matz said, “I’m having a hard time getting settled on length … You’re squeezing a pool into a pretty tight space to begin with.” He asked why the pool couldn’t be shortened by 4 feet in length on the southern end of the pool to remove the need for that variance. Mr. Wilson responded that the available usable swimming space isn’t 44 feet but about 40 feet, since 4 feet of the proposed pool is occupied by the stairs leading into the pool, but he would rather remove the 3 feet of walkway from the south side of the pool than shorten the length of the pool.

Board Chairwoman Joann Piccozzi suggested removing the walkway between the pool and the retaining wall to the west and shortening the pool by 1 foot, removing the need for the westerly setback variance, and eliminating the walkway to the south, removing the need for the southerly setback variance. Mr. Wilson responded that doing that would get grass in the pool when he was cutting it, a notion board member William Johnston III pointed out, and Mr. Wilson argued it would make the pool too narrow.

He explained that the total lot coverage with the pool and walkway would constitute 32.8 percent lot coverage, less than the allowable maximum of 40 percent. He said the lot is more difficult to build on due to two 40-foot frontyard setbacks and sharp drops in elevation to the north and west.

The current patio is not listed under the Wilsons’ certificate of occupancy, according to Building Permit Coordinator Mary Wilson. Mr. Wilson contends the patio had already been installed when the certificate of occupancy was issued. The current patio conforms to setback requirements and is no obstacle to receipt of a certificate of occupancy, but once it abuts a pool the patio would need the variance.

The hearing was closed except for written correspondence until April 6.


Amy and Wayne Juchatz-Camanzo have requested a 3.8-foot variance for a shed that partially intrudes into the Zone “A” residential frontyard setback of 40 feet.

Ms. Juchatz-Camanzo said the shed was built on a concrete slab in 1982. At that time, the contractor’s survey and construction permit indicated that the shed would be built within the 40-foot setback. “The intention was that it was going to be built in compliance,” she said.

Hoping to sell the house, she had a survey drawn up for the property and realized that the shed was actually built 36.2 feet from the front yard setback rather than the required 40 feet. The shed is used for storage, she said. The neighbors immediately to the west and east of Ms. Juchatz-Camanzo support the request.

Board members responded favorably to the request. “If it wasn’t on a slab, I’d say pick it up and move it,” said Ms. Piccozzi. “I think if we made you move it, in the state that it’s in, it would just cause more of a detriment to the neighborhood and the environment than if we just let you keep it here. It’s been there for 30 years.” Board member William Johnston III noted that only a corner of the shed requires the variance and he suggested approving a variance that stipulates that any improvement of the shed would require board approval.

The hearing was closed except for written correspondence until April 6.