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Variance granted for porch construction in Salem

SALEM — The city Board of Zoning Appeals agreed Monday to grant a 5.2-foot front yard variance for the construction of a covered front porch on a home at 1290 E. 10th St.

The homeowners, Denny and Linda Philips, did not attend the Zoom meeting, with city Planning and Zoning Officer Chip Hank saying they may have had trouble logging on since they indicated earlier in the day that they would be attending.

The zoning in the RS-1 Single Family Zone calls for a front yard of 30 feet, which is why a variance was requested. A front yard of 24.8 feet will be left after the porch is built.

Board members present included Chairman Mark Pietrzak and John Panezott, who both welcomed new member Amanda Jackson. Members Tim Baillie and Shawna L’Italien were unable to attend.

“I don’t see where a 5-foot variance is going to hurt anything,” Panezott said.

He had asked Hank if neighbors were notified, which they were by letter, and whether there was any opposition or anything, which he wasn’t aware of.

Pietrzak noted that it’s on a corner lot and asked if a site triangle was done on this because the state requires 50 feet to make sure there’s no obstruction for line of sight.

“They’ve got 20 feet. You can’t see past that?,” Panezott said.

Pietrzak said it looked like they were alright. He just wanted to bring it up to watch out for any liability for the city.

Jackson asked if there was any obstruction on that corner, to which Pietrzak said he didn’t see anything. The state just looks at that depending on speed of travel and other factors. Panezott said it’s in the city and the speed limit is 25 mph.

Pietrzak said it’s just something they should consider to make sure everyone has line of sight, adding “I’m not against the porch. I think the porch will look nice.”

Board members looked at a photograph of the house and a map and agreed to approve the variance request.

In an unrelated matter, Hank asked the board whether they would like to continue with Zoom meetings or return to meeting in person.

“I’d rather meet in person. I think it’s time to get on with our lives and we meet in person,” Panezott said.

Since this was Jackson’s first meeting, she said she would defer to the other board members, saying she can do Zoom, but she also has no issue with an in-person meeting.

Pietrzak said meeting at city hall was fine with him. Both he and Panezott said it’s easier in person for people to explain what they’re trying to do and to show exhibits, such as maps or photos.

The board does not hold regular meetings and normally meets when there’s an appeal to be considered.

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