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Small House, Little Miracle

Several years ago, when Tony Szalma began to build a house on property he owns on the east side of Falls Road just north of Potomac Village, county zoning officials stopped him.

The lot Szalma owns is an “outlot,” not big enough allow for building a house by today’s zoning standards. It was 1993, and long-time Potomac resident Szalma was recently divorced and hoping to live on his property.

But Park and Planning in 1999 ruled that because the lot was recorded before 1958, Szalma should be allowed to build on the property, and Szalma’s application for a building permit was approved.

“Since [this parcel] has existed in its entirety prior to June 1, 1958, it qualifies as an exception to the subdivision requirements,” wrote Malcolm Shaneman of development review in Park and Planning. “This parcel would be eligible for development with one single family home.”

Szalma is building his two-story house himself with one helper, and has had frequent inspections.

“The county has been very nice to me,” Szalma said. “It’s a little short of a miracle,” he noted, after stormy interactions with county zoning inspectors in 1993. “I’m just tickled to have a place, and so close in.”