WARSAW — The Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals denied a variance from development standards to allow a duplex with less square footage than normally required during the meeting held March 25.
Steve Conrad owns the property at 831 E. Center St. The hope is to allow a duplex with smaller than permitted lot size. The lot is approximately 6,500 square feet, which is 2,000 square feet less than the minimum required lot size for a duplex in an R-2 zoning district.
Conrad submitted a formal letter addressing his request to the board. The letter concluded by stating, “My wife and I enjoy these renovations and providing a service to the biomedical community by providing quality housing to the co-op students. We also take a lot of care to protect a peaceful neighborhood with strict provisions in the lease for one car only, not disturbing the neighbors and keeping things clean. We believe what we are doing helps the neighborhood, the city and the industry.”
Conrad was present during the meeting and explained that there are five students living in the home and he also lives there part-time when he is in town for work. According to Conrad, the home has six bedrooms but the goal would be to separate one of the bedrooms to create a separate living space for when he or his wife are in town. It was noted that the home has five off-street parking spaces and two additional parking spaces in a garage. Technically, there must be two parking spaces for each dwelling unit, meaning the home would require 12 parking spaces if six people live there.
Assistant City Planner Justin Taylor noted that the planning department is aware of how essential affordable housing options are in the city. “However, there is also need to protect adjacent properties from the potentially detrimental impacts of proposed developments. It is the recommendation of the planning department to heavily consider the adjacent property owner’s comments.”
Two neighboring property owners came to the meeting to discuss their objections to the request.
Regina Ferguson, owner of 837 E. Center St., pointed out that the home is a single-family dwelling and Conrad has admitted to renting rooms to students. “That’s not a duplex,” said Ferguson. “He’s not observing the current zoning rules. I don’t think he should be awarded by getting a variance when his lot doesn’t meet the requirements to begin with.”
Dwayne Huffer, owner of 911 E. Main St., was present at the meeting and stated he was very familiar with Conrad’s home because his in-laws and later his cousin both owned the home in the past. “I don’t understand how he can have a duplex in that home. It couldn’t be separate unless he puts in a new doorway, maybe,” said Huffer. “Also, it is a single-family dwelling … to have a duplex — which in my opinion, it would be difficult to have a duplex — would be incorrect in a single-family area.”
Rick Keeven, vice president of the board, stated that cases like these were the exact reason he joined the board. “Just the sheer number of people alone tend to detract, in my opinion, from the residential flavor of the neighborhood,” said Keeven. “I’m going to protect that until my dying day so I’m opposed.”
The rest of the board echoed Keeven’s objection to the issue and the board voted unanimously to deny the variance.