SM Home Delayed a Second Time Amid Size, Style Concerns

The vote on a home proposal was delayed a second time by mutual agreement, but the Design Review Committee appeared to be slowly warming up to its design.
Its neighbors, who helped to compose the audience at the April 5 meeting, remained unenthusiastic about the proposal, however. The design under consideration is a two-story Cape Cod style home with an attached one-car garage and detached two-car garage at 1541 Euston Road.
“This is still an extremely large house,” said Commissioner John Dustin. “It’s within 28 square feet of the maximum allowed. The square footage hadn’t changed at all since the first submission.”
Although within the allowable size for the neighborhood, the DRC was concerned with the visual massing of the proposed home, specifically with how far forward a front gable extended and how much closer to the street the home was in general.
The modified design moved the home’s footprint back by 2 feet and also lowered the gable. The front porch also was modified and one of the three roof dormers was removed.
Staff findings were more forgiving for this iteration of the proposal and suggested narrowing the front porch and reducing the dormer size to make it a better fit with the neighborhood.
However, as with the proposal’s first hearing last month, a multitude of neighbors insisted the design was too large and imposing on the immediately surrounding homes, with one neighbor disputing staff findings that the upstairs windows would not violate neighbor privacy and another claiming the new home would substantially shield his home from natural sunlight.
The architect, Alex Chang, pointed out that he had reduced the home’s height by a foot by lowering the roof’s pitch rather than adjusting the plate heights. Chairman Frank Hsu concurred it would be hard to reduce the plate height more and have the home remain comfortable, but Dustin was not a fan of the work-around.
“That pitch change corrupts the Cape Cod style,” he pointed out, adding he had issues with a variety of other design cues and the amount of lighting on the front of the home.
Hsu also acknowledged he was more concerned with the visual mass of the home than he was with the actual square footage amount. Commissioner Corinna Wong said other homes in the neighborhood more subtly distributed their size, whereas this proposal had a “straight across” design.
“The massing and bulk of the square footage are concentrated at the front of the house,” she said.
Commissioner Kevin Cheng also took issue with the home’s height, setback from the street and dormer size.
By comparison, Commissioner William Dietrick said that although the immediate neighborhood had smaller homes, this proposal would “definitely” fit in with the broader streetscape of the area. Alternate Commissioner Judy Johnson-Brody, who spoke first of her colleagues, pointed out that the applicants had responded to their prior feedback and the home met all of the legal requirements.
“I always try to be empathetic, because we all live in this community and we all have concerns about our neighborhoods,” she said. “I would approve this project, despite some feedback from the neighbors.”
At any rate, Chang had requested a delay of the vote because he wanted to revisit the dormers before this meeting but after he had already submitted updated plans. He wanted the discussion to continue last week so he would be aware of additional concerns or requests by commissioners.
The DRC will revisit the proposal on May 17.
Other Business
• A first- and second-story addition and remodel proposal at 1200 Old Mill Road was approved last week, the second time the DRC discussed the matter. Commissioners had asked the transition between the first and second story be made less dramatic, which was accomplished this time around by adding a roofline in between the transition. The DRC approved the project on the condition that the added windows follow a consistent design and symmetry.
• A front yard fence, driveway and pedestrian gates, mailbox and callbox at 1040 Oak Grove Ave. were approved on the condition that the fence be a wrought iron design and that existing vegetation around currently existing fence and where the additional fence is planned be maintained.
• The installation of Andersen E-Series windows at 1155 Avondale Road was approved on the condition that city staff makes sure the trim color matches that of the previously approved Kolbe aluminum clad windows. The Andersen windows are not on the city’s preapproved list.
• A driveway gate and pedestrian gate at 810 Sussex Road were approved on the condition the driveway gate be moved closer to the home to allow a 17-foot clearance from the road.
• A new front yard wall and pilasters at 2335 Sherwood Road were approved without condition.

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