By Tia Lynn Ivey
The Madison Mayor and City Council unanimously approved a variance application submitted by Everett Royal to alter the minimum lot requirements on two out of three tracts of land on North Avenue in order to build two more houses along side an existing house currently on the property.
Royal requested an 18-foot reduction in lot size requirements in order to build the two houses along the “historic” house line that currently exists in the neighborhood.
During the public hearing portion of Monday’s city council meeting, several people spoke against Royal’s application, fearing approval would set a precedence for other variances in the historic district that would pave the way to unwanted development.
Brian Lehman, chairman of the Morgan County Planning Commission, spoke against the application.
“Most difficult thing with variances is if we get it wrong, we are stuck with a precedent we don’t want to live with,” warned Lehman.
Grady Tuell, a neighbor to the North Avenue property, also spoke against the application.
“We would not like to see the variance granted,” said Tuell. “We don’t support the project or the public trails being talked about.”
Selwyn Hollis argued that the application did not meet all the requirements to warrant a variance.
“You are just taking it as a given that he has to build two houses. Why doesn’t he just build one? Building that extra house is his choice, he doesn’t have to do it,” said Hollis.
But the city council noted that the variance application could not stop Royal from building two houses, but only where those houses could be configured on Royal’s property.