Board members were unanimous in their decision to grant a variance for the structure built in violation of setback regulations and without a valid building permit.
Charlotte Jones sent an email to the Banner asking for clarification to a story in the Wednesday edition on page 6 headlined “Board of Zoning Appeals rejects car wash; yes to garage variance.”
The detached garage belonging to Lillios became an issue with the city in November 2010. Community Development Director Greg Thomas said the garage located behind Lillios’ house fronting Church Street was built without a valid building permit. The house was built by David May, who elected not to construct the garage, which was later built by the homeowner acting as his own contractor.
Greg Calfee framed the garage.
Jones said, “Greg Calfee was not acting as a contractor when he only framed the garage for Lillios. He was acting as a subcontractor being hired by Lillios to frame the garage. Lillios was acting as his own contractor. It is not up to subcontractors to obtain building permits. It was up to Lillios. Lillios is not a contractor. He was a homeowner acting as his own contractor.”
Thomas said Lillios filled out a permit application on Aug. 4, 2010, but it was never granted. Upon reviewing the permit, Building Inspector Mary Baier informed Lillios by letter there were questions that needed answering before the permit could be issued.
The letter stated, “Because I do not know where the actual property line is on your lot, the only way to be completely sure would be for you to have the property surveyed, or supply me with a valid surveyor’s sheet and then we’ll know where the public right-of-way and your property line meet.”
Jones said the only reason she voted for a variance was because the city of Cleveland had three opportunities to do stop-work orders on Lillios’ garage: after the footer inspection, the framing inspection and the electrical inspection.
“It is their problem for not doing so,” she said. “They did not have to pass any inspections if there were issues with not having a building permit. The city messed up. I wasn’t going to punish a homeowner for the city’s negligence. The garage was put back in the same location as the original carriage house. It would have been crazy to make him tear down or move the garage, especially when it was on a slab. This does not, however, give credence to building without a permit.”
Thomas said Baier had just taken over as building inspector after the departure of Jason Cole, so she was still transitioning into the job.
“When we became aware there was a problem, we did do something about it,” he said.
He said it is up to the property owner and contractor not to build in the right of way or setbacks.