Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Board of Appeals Blows It

Well, the Board of Appeals had the opportunity to make an example of the contractor who build his house on Little Dobbins Island without permits, but they punted. For all the talk about this being a country governed by "the rule of law", we see once again that if you've got enough money, a decent lawyer, and the plaintiff is the environment, the weak-kneed good ole' boys on the Board of Appeals will grant you your variance to the law.

Board Member John Boring went so far as to offer, "Variances were put into the law so that variances could be granted." Raising of course, the question, "Why does the law exist if variances can be so readily obtained?" Essentially, under the current scheme, the only people not getting variances are those too poor to afford or not savvy enough to procure competent legal council to help them before the Hearing Officer or Board of Appeals.

In the Little Dobbins case, the Board found 5-2 that Daryl Wagner's house "doesn't have a significantly greater environmental footprint than an earlier house on the island" and "that county mapping errors overstated the size of a critical waterfront buffer." Wagner had the gall to ask for a variance to build a new shed on the 2-acre island, and was denied that variance, and ordered to remove a pool, a gazebo, a patio and sidewalks.

Little Dobbins before and after

I doesn't require a PhD in ecology to figure out that the environmental footprint of the previous house was significantly less than Mr. Wagner's terraformed monstrosity, or that the Board of Appeals is a frighteningly ill-equipped corps to assist in the defense of the Bay. Aside from Board Chairman Anthony Lamartina and member William Moulden, we'd do well to see them all turned out with the inauguration of the new Council.



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