|The applicant is requesting a variance to construct an approximately 1,500 square foot detached garage in the front yard of their property. The subject property is located within an R1-43 zoning district which does not allow detached accessory structures in the front yard. The subject property is lot 21 in the Monte del Oro subdivision as shown on the map to the right.
The home was built towards the back of the property on the highest and flattest part of the lot, with a significant downward slope behind the home to the rear of the lot. A significant slope also exists at the front of the property, causing the need for a long, steep driveway to the home.
Due to the placement and construction of the home, as a result of the topography constraints, there is no functional location for a detached accessory structure in the side or rear yard, which would be permitted by the Zoning Code. The proposed location of the detached accessory structure is in front of the home on a more level part of the lot and is the only area for a detached accessory structure on the property.
Staff recommends approval of the variance request determining that all five findings have been met as described in the following background and detailed information.
- Property is located in the Monte del Oro subdivision
- Lot size is 61,000 square feet
- Property was purchased in 1991 with the existing home already constructed on the lot (built in 1988)
- The home is located on the highest and flattest part of the lot with significant slopes to the front, side, and rear
State Law and the Oro Valley Zoning Code require the Board of Adjustment to determine that all of the following variance findings have been met in order to grant a variance. The required five findings are shown in italics below, followed by the applicant and staff comments. The applicant’s complete response to the findings are included in Attachment 2.
1. That there are special circumstances or conditions applying to the property referred to in the application including its size, shape, topography, location or surroundings which do not apply to other properties in the district.
The applicant refers to the west side of Poinsettia Drive where their property is located and explains that the topography has created long, narrow lots. The applicant also describes the steep approach to their home with a long driveway, the steep slope behind the home and how the home was built on the flattest part of the lot.
A leach field exists to the north of the home limiting any potential garage location, and mature vegetation and potential setback issues exist to the south of the home for a detached accessory structure. The applicant explains that enlarging the existing garage would not be feasible as it would render the existing tight turn-around space unusable.
The applicant states that the shape, topography, locations of the existing driveway, home, and garage, and the existing setbacks all create special circumstances that do not apply to other properties in the district and that the proposed location is the only place on the property where a detached garage could be located.
The subject property has special circumstances that apply to it in terms of shape and topography. The subject property is a long, narrow lot, leaving very little buildable area in the side yards due to building setback requirements. A leach field is also located to the north of the home and must remain unobstructed (Attachment 3). This makes placement of a detached accessory structure not feasible on the north or south sides of the home due to the existing leach field and building setback constraints (Attachment 4).
Topography constraints also limit where a detached accessory structure can be built. Construction is not feasible behind the home due to a significant slope downwards to a wash. Topography to the south of the home also restricts placement of a detached accessory structure as downward slopes severely limit any buildable area. The proposed location of the detached accessory structure is the only place on the property where one could be built as it is a more level area among the slopes (Attachment 5).
Other homes in the Monte del Oro subdivision are located on flatter and wider lots where there would be more opportunities for a detached accessory structure location. Due to the aforementioned factors regarding topography and lot shape, staff finds that special circumstances do apply to this property and that this finding has been met.
2. That special circumstances were not created by the owner or applicant.
The property owner states that the home was purchased in 1991 and was already built, and therefore did not make any decision regarding the placement of the home, existing garage, or driveway and turnaround design. The applicant states that the topography on the lot was not created by them and that the special circumstances necessitating the request for the variance were not caused by them either.
Whether or not the applicant built the existing home is irrelevant. However, the applicant did not create the aforementioned special circumstances in regards to topography and lot shape. Staff finds that this finds that this finding has been met.
3. Variance is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of substantial property rights.
The applicant refers to the existing two-car garage which is short and narrow and inadequate for keeping vehicles and having extra storage space. The applicant explains that due to the six vehicles they own, extra vehicles must be parked in the turnaround area on the shoulder of Poinsettia Dr. when service vehicles or company is expected. The applicant explains that this creates safety issues and that an additional larger garage is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of substantial property rights.
Detached accessory structures are not uncommon in the Monte del Oro neighborhood or in R1-43 zoning districts. Because there is only one location for a detached accessory structure on the property, and because the request to construct a detached accessory structure is not unusual for the neighborhood or zoning district, this finding has been met.
4. That any variance granted imposes such conditions as will assure that the authorizing of the adjustment shall not constitute a grant of special privileges inconsistent with the limitations upon other properties in the vicinity and zone in which such property is located.
The applicant states that if the variance request is granted, the detached garage would be placed in a very specific location due to the existing special circumstances on the property and that the proposed location is the only area where the detached garage could be built. The property owner states that the granting of a variance does not constitute a special privilege from other properties in the district due to the unique circumstances that exist on the subject property.
A number of lots in the Monte de Oro subdivision have detached accessory structures on the property. While nearly all of these are in the side or rear yard, the unique circumstances that apply to the lot make the proposed location for the detached garage the only realistic area on the property. Detached accessory structures are not unusual in this zoning district and do not grant a special privilege.
However, the request is subject to conditions to limit potential negative impacts to the surrounding area. Staff recommends the conditions of approval outlined in Attachment 1 as part of this variance request. These conditions accomplish the following:
These proposed conditions will minimize any potential visual impacts from Poinsettia Dr. and adjacent neighbors. The applicant is aware of these proposed conditions.
- Place a limitation on the building height to a maximum of 12 feet to the top of the parapet.
- Restrict roof mounted appurtenances such as antennas and air conditioning units.
- Require additional landscaping for visual screening along the north side of the proposed structure where vegetation is currently sparse.
- The structure must be painted earth tones, which would allow the building to match the existing home and blend in to the surrounding environment.
Based on the aforementioned factors and the recommended conditions of approval in Attachment 1, this finding has been met.
5. That the authorizing of the variance will not be materially detrimental to persons residing in the vicinity, to adjacent property, to the neighborhood or the public welfare in general.
The applicant has included Exhibit A and Exhibit B in their application (Attachment 2) which shows an aerial with the proposed garage location and elevations and floor plan of the proposed garage. The proposed garage will sit lower than the neighboring home to the north and will not create negative visual impacts. The applicant also explains through Exhibit C that view impacts will be minimal from Poinsettia Dr. Exhibit D is an approval letter from the Monte de Oro Homeowners Association for the proposed structure. The applicant states that the proposed garage will match the existing home and that the request is not detrimental to adjacent property owners, the Monte de Oro neighborhood, or public welfare in general.
Staff has met with the property owner on-site twice to discuss the request and evaluate the proposed building location and impacts to surrounding properties. The findings are summarized below:
Due to these factors and the existing approval from the Monte de Oro Homeowners Association, this finding has been met as the proposed garage will not be materially detrimental to adjacent properties, the neighborhood, or public welfare in general.
- The proposed garage will be located substantially lower, approximately 24 feet lower, than the existing floor elevation of the home to the north. A 12 foot detached accessory structure would not negatively impact views looking southeast towards the mountains.
- The proposed structure will be set back over 100 feet from the front property line and will have minimal if any visual impact from Poinsettia Dr.
- Staff has recommended vegetative screening along the north side of the proposed detached accessory structure to mitigate view impacts from the adjacent property to the north (Attachment 1).
- The recommended conditions of Approval in Attachment 1 will limit any potential negative impacts to the surrounding area.
The proposed detached garage will require grading to create an area that is relatively level for placement of the structure and associated driveway. Due to the existing topography, the amount of grading required may trigger the need for a grading exception if Zoning Code based cut (removing dirt) and fill (adding dirt) limitations are exceeded. Allowed cut and fill amounts are six (6) feet or eight (8) feet if terracing is utilized, and the applicant is aware of this. It is important to note that a grading exception requires a separate public hearing approval process through the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council. Approval of this variance request does not grant approval of a grading exception.
Public Notice has been provided as follows:
- Notice sent to all property owners within 300 feet of the subject properties.
- Notice posted on the property.
- Notice posted online at www.orovalleyaz.gov
- Notice advertised in the Daily Territorial.
One letter has been received by a neighbor of the property (Attachment 6) detailing concerns about building height, screening, and erosion issues. Staff has worked to minimize and mitigate for any potential negative impacts in the conditions of approval included in Attachment 1.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATION:
Staff finds that the variance request meets all the findings per State Law and the Zoning Code and staff recommends approval.