Fairway resident Matt Condon’s plans to create a large dream home with expansive back yard for his four children were shot down this week by a planning commission worried about setting a precedent for tear-downs.
About 20 residents turned out for the public hearing and planning commission vote Monday on whether to allow Condon to tear down a house on the lot behind him.
Approval would have given Conlon the green light for a one-story addition on the back of his home at 6222 Glenfield Drive. But it also would have meant a tract of green back yard where a house now stands at 6219 Howe Drive.
Condon bought the Howe Drive house about three years ago with plans to tear it down and combine the lots. He had considered the addition, landscaping and a pool at one time. However, the pool was not in the plan the commission voted on this week.
The Howe Drive house, a ranch-style home on a 20,800 square-foot lot, is valued at $325,500. The Condon’s house on Glenfield Drive sits on a 14,400-square-foot lot and is valued at $761,400.
Several of Condon’s Reinhardt Estates neighbors spoke at the hearing, both for and against.
Condon had planned shrubbery across the back property line to block the Howe Drive view of his back yard, but most of those against the plan said they still did not like the precedent it would set. They also feared for their future property values.
A back-door tear-down poses problems for the people on the next street, said Brian Yeo. The removal of enough of those houses means neighbors on the other street would be forced to look into a row of back yards. As that happens, the street becomes more of an alleyway and property values along it plummet, he said.
Rod Seemann, another neighbor on Howe Drive, asked the commission: “If the house across the street from you was torn down and became somebody’s back yard, would you be pleased?”
“If you allow this to happen between Glenfield and Howe, anybody else can come along and how are you going to turn them down?” Seemann said.
Condon had some supporters, too. Matthew Marcus said he thought the plans looked good and was not worried about decreasing property values. “I think the end result will be something we all can be pretty proud of,” he said.
The planning commission was unanimous in its denial, however. They were concerned about the big difference in lot sizes on the block that the merger would cause. Blending the two lots also would require realignment of utilities, making the change more permanent, they said.
The back-door tear-down would give ammunition to others who might want to do the same thing, said planning commissioner Pat Wiederaenders. “It’s like un-ringing a bell. You can’t do it,” he said.
Condon said afterwards he has no Plan B. “We’re disappointed. I’m sure my wife will be disappointed,” he said. “We will go home and talk about it.”