The city alleges a garage belonging to Nicholas Lillios was built inside the 16th Street right of way. The only two remaining options are to move it or let it remain.
At-large Councilman George Poe said earlier this week during the Cleveland City Council meeting that residents have been asking for an update on complaints about the structure.
“I’ve had three different complaints wanting to know something. They’ve had no answer from the city as to why something hasn’t been done,” he said. “I hadn’t heard anything about it until the last two or three days.”
Community Development Director Greg Thomas said his department only recently received a survey on the Lillios “carriage house that is basically a big detached garage on 16th Street.”
The garage is located behind Lillios’ house fronting Church Street. Thomas said the structure encroaches into the right of way up to two feet on one corner.
“We advised Mr. Lillios earlier, based on what we saw there, that ... from the building official’s measurements, it appeared to be too close to the street,” Thomas said. “That was headed down the path toward the Board of Zoning Appeals. We asked him (Lillios) to provide a survey. That didn’t happen and eventually we got a survey, and what we found out is the carriage house is built in the 16th Street right of way.”
Because it is in the right of way, the issue is beyond the scope of the Board of Zoning Appeals’ ability to grant a setback variance.
“The only two remedies for this situation are either the structure itself is relocated or removed so it is no longer in the right of way or the setback,” he said. “Or that there is an abandonment of right of way that would have to come to this body to be approved. I guess staff would want to know where the Council stands.”
Lillios said Tuesday that he was out of town Monday and was unaware of the discussion at the City Council meeting.
His attorney, George McCoin, said he was unable to discuss the matter for two reasons: one was attorney-client privilege and two, he didn’t know enough about the matter to discuss it.
At the meeting, Mayor Tom Rowland asked if there was enough room between the street and the garage to build a sidewalk.
Thomas replied there was not enough room without going out into the street.
Poe said City Council approved abandonment of an alley about two years ago.
Councilman Bill Estes asked Thomas why he would ask city government about the situation.
“The city has to have some way to deal with this,” Estes said. “People do things like this all the time.”
Thomas replied, “People don’t do this all the time. People sometimes mess up and build things within a setback area and that’s something the Board of Zoning Appeals can address.”
The community development director said he cannot remember someone building in the right of way in his 10 years with the city. There have been fences built in alleyways, but not a structure built in a right of way.
Thomas said Lillios had a house built by one contractor and then built the garage on his own and unknown to his department. During the construction period there was a change in building inspectors. The current inspector, Mary Baier, was under the impression the garage was being built under the original permit for the house.
“We discovered there was a problem when we got a complaint about the proximity of the carriage house to 16th Street,” Baier said. “We began looking into it and discovered there was no permit pulled by the property owner for this carriage house.”
She said no inspections have been made on the garage.