Facing concerns and complaints from neighbors over the delayed construction of a house, Northfield’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted an extension that might allow the property owner to get the home built.
With their approval, nonetheless, commissioners are also requiring the owner to meet several conditions or risk losing a $20,000 money bond.
The extension and the conditions were each approved on the Northfield ZBA’s meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
The vacant property at 1649 Mount Nice St. is owned by Paul and Ana Lazanyi, and in August 2022, they were granted approval for brand spanking new construction. Per Village code, construction needed to be accomplished inside 18 months, with a Feb. 2 deadline.
But Paul Lazanyi told the ZBA Wednesday evening that, due to quite a few delays, he has only been capable of finish the home’s foundation and stormwater systems.
Lazanyi, who said he initially planned to finance the project himself, cited construction costs as the first reason for the delay.
“Last 12 months was a really difficult 12 months for financing construction loans,” he told commissioners. “So, I got to the purpose where now I made the financing through a non-public lender and I’m capable of proceed the development in March.”
He later clarified that he has been pre-approved for a construction loan and is expecting to shut on it inside two weeks.
Lazanyi also said he has already invested $360,000 into the property and anticipates spending one other $300,000 to have it accomplished.
After Lazanyi made his comments, the board heard from five neighbors who shared their concerns concerning the project’s progress, and lots of urged the commissioners not to permit construction to proceed.
Many of the speakers expressed similar concerns, primarily with flooding they’ve experienced since construction began.
Jill Sherman was considered one of those neighbors.
“I actually have noticed excessive flooding because the construction began,” she said. “I’m unsure whether that’s insufficient flood control, if it’s the removal of the big, beautiful tree that was discussed earlier that had roots that absorbed the water. There’s definitely excessive flooding where it didn’t flood before.”
One other neighbor, Christin Thomas, questioned whether or not the water management system had even been installed.
“I’ve watched this for a 12 months and a half,” she said. “There’s been nothing for no less than six months. I’ve never seen a bulldozer.”
Thomas later added that she “can’t imagine how the flood control system has been put in there.”
Lazanyi said the system has been installed and is working. Steve Gutierrez, Northfield’s community development director, said while he can’t speak to the extent of the installation, “they’ve done the underground work” for the stormwater management plan.
Gutierrez also confirmed that the plan was submitted to the Village and approved as designed.
He also made a proposal to rearrange a gathering between the neighbors and the Village’s engineering staff to clarify what has been done to date and what will probably be done to forestall future flooding, which the neighbors acknowledged they might appreciate.
Other neighbors complained that neighboring properties have been damaged by construction equipment, construction vehicles blocking the streets and stopping school buses from picking up students, and excessive noise from construction employees.
“It’s been a hardship on everybody. We’re, without delay, in a situation that there’s really no perfect answer to it.”
Richard Crotty, chairperson of the Northfield Zoning Board of Appeals
Neighbor Kathy Estabrooke said the “disrespect” was her biggest concern, which she said began prior to construction when a neighbor’s flowers that abutted the lot were removed.
“Whenever you start out in a neighborhood and also you start out with disrespect, it’s hard to imagine that that disrespect won’t proceed,” she said. “And that’s really my concern.”
Lazanyi did apologize for a number of the issues, saying a few of what happened was “out of my control.”
“I’ll be certain that that nothing will occur out of the scheduled time,” he said.
Gutierrez added that any damage must be reported to the Village, which is able to then keep up a correspondence with the development team about repairing or replacing what was damaged.
A few of the neighbors asked the commission to refuse the extension and to order the lot be restored to its original condition, something with which ZBA Chairperson Richard Crotty disagreed.
“If you happen to attempt to try this, all that’s going to occur is that this matter will find yourself in court and it can be several years before anything is finished with that piece of property,” he said. “That’s only a fact of life.”
But he also acknowledged that there was no solution that might make everyone glad.
“It’s been a hardship on everybody,” he said. “We’re, without delay, in a situation that there’s really no perfect answer to it. We’re going to attempt to provide you with something that helps the neighbors out as much as possible and possibly allows the project to maneuver forward.”
During deliberations, Crotty proposed granting Lazany’s request, while also adding conditions, including an increased money bond ($20,000). 4 deadlines can be set, and if Lazany fails to satisfy any of those deadlines, $5,000 of that bond will probably be kept by the Village.
If any of that bond stays, it might be returned to Lazanyi if construction is accomplished by a brand new deadline of Sept. 2, and pending an inspection by Village staff.
Commissioners unanimously approved Crotty’s suggestion, and Lazanyi said he understood what the brand new rules were.
Moreover, commissioners tentatively scheduled a follow-up meeting on March 6 to envision in and see if Lazanyi was capable of secure his construction loan. If he receives the loan prior to that date, the meeting will probably be canceled, but when it’s not received, that meeting will probably be held to find out what the subsequent steps will probably be.
Crotty ended the meeting by offering some advice to Lazanyi:
“I very strongly suggest you do your very best to make peace together with your neighbors.”
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