John LoGrande jumped through one hoop on Jan. 9 when the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved construction of a garage on his property in the New Alexandria neighborhood. LoGrande, however, knew that the fight to keep his house wouldn’t be won or lost before the board. “This isn’t the big battle right now,” he said.
Two years ago, LoGrande applied for a permit to build a detached garage on his property. While the recently approved garage meets county guidelines, his house does not. During the permitting process, LoGrande found that his house, which is in the floodplain of the Potomac River, sits seven inches too low to satisfy county regulations. When the house was built in 1980, county staff approved construction and issued the owner at the time a Certificate of Occupancy.
“We are inheriting the error,” LoGrande said.
County staff suggested that to fix the situation, he would either have to build a berm around his house, raise the house by seven inches, tear it down, add sufficient dirt and rebuild the it or get a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals .
LoGrande applied for the variance. However, since a recent Virginia Supreme Court ruling the Board of Zoning Appeals rarely grants variances.
LoGrande had his hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals, and it deferred its decision until Jan. 31.
“I would expect that the BZA would do the right thing,” said Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon). Hyland noted that several groups have been lobbying for approval of the variance.
If the Board of Zoning Appeals does not grant LoGrande the variance, he will have 60 days to bring his house into compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.