Council denies couple's right-of-way request

CENTRAL POINT — A pair of property owners on Ash Street who wanted an oversize right-of-way returned from city to private ownership to allow construction of a second dwelling on their lot were denied Thursday.

Bryan and Lisa Herrmann asked council members Thursday to vacate a portion of the 80-foot right-of-way that, if reduced to the more standard 56 feet, would provide enough space to allow them to build a second house facing adjacent Chestnut Street.

While the Herrmanns said neighbors supported them, those who appeared Thursday night voiced opposition, citing the possibility of higher tax bills and concern that the council would make a ruling for the benefit of just one property.

The Herrmanns and surveyor Herb Farber challenged the notion that taxes would go up significantly. They also told city officials the approval would bring the existing older homes into compliance with modern setback rules.

The unusually large right-of-way is a throwback to the city's horse and buggy days when enough room was needed to turn around a buggy and team of horses.

Farber, a local surveyor and agent for the Herrmanns, said the issue was more emotional than factual for the neighbors in opposition.

Councilman Mike Quilty voiced frustration at the idea of passing any law for the benefit of one property owner.

Councilwoman Kay Harrison said that while "there's always growth and change," the city was "also made up of residents and community" and that concerns needed to be taken into account.

Brian Herrmann told the council that his initial desire for the property, aside from making improvements and finding good tenants, was to add a second "affordable home."

Longtime neighbor Gene Skelton told the council the Herrmanns should have reviewed the setback requirements and zoning of the property before purchasing the home.

"Our predecessors set forth these ordinances and there must have been a reason for them saying a property had to be a certain size to be divided," Skelton said.

Councilman Matt Stephenson admitted difficulty denying property owners the right to develop as they wanted but acknowledged neighbors concerns.

Councilman Walter Moczygemba noted, "the residents who reside in the area are against it and the nonresidents are for it."

The final vote by the council was unanimous in denying the Herrmanns' request.

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