Byrnes Downs has historically fought efforts to convert single-family homes into multi-family/commercial structures simply because our streets are narrow, our lot sizes are small, and we feel it would seriously degrade the character and charm of our neighborhood.
As president of the Byrnes Downs Neighborhood Association, I was part of an October 2011 protest against the construction of a second dwelling unit at 31 Yeadon Ave.
The city’s zoning administrator informed neighborhood residents that this conversion was legal. The neighborhood took this cause to the Board of Zoning Appeals, which found that the administrator erred, and the decision was reversed.
The property owner appealed and lost, but was granted a stay until he could submit the decision to the board for reconsideration.
The owner, represented by legal counsel, appealed to a Circuit Court judge, who affirmed the board’s decision that the use of the structure as a duplex was illegal.
The owner filed a motion to reconsider, which the judge denied, and reasserted that 31 Yeadon Ave. could no longer be utilized as two separate dwelling units.
Sets of tenants continue to rent the separate living quarters, apparently signing a single lease in order to appear as one group renting the entire structure.
The city feels this is adequate enough to circumvent the court’s ruling.
This dispute is not about individuals. It is about maintaining the integrity of a neighborhood built for, and designated as, single family.
This property lost the privilege of nonconformity by the past actions of its owner. Zoning laws exist for a reason. However, they only work if they are enforced. The neighborhood is merely asking the city to enforce the zoning laws it created.