The Arden Arcade Community Planning Advisory Council (CPAC) is having another of its monthly meetings on 9/27/2018 at 7pm at the community center in Howe Park. There are two items on the agenda, neither of which look like projects that will make Arden Arcade better. One is yet another to-go liquor license for a convenience store. Followers of our blog already know that the County never met a liquor license it didn’t like, which is why WE HAVE TOO MANY OF THEM. This store that wants the license is in Census Tract 57.01, which the Sheriff says has crime and the ABC says already has too many liquor licenses (5 instead of the 3 max it should have). There is no basis for another one there, other than the County’s pattern of relentless failure to do the right thing. Besides, whether the old owner had a liquor license doesn’t mean the new owner gets to use it. That’s not how the law works; licenses are not granted in perpetuity. Is this an appropriate chance to reduce the excessive number of to-go liquor licenses?
The other project on the agenda is a request to let one parcel in the Wilhaggin area avoid complying with zoning rules that everyone else has to follow: building height (1/2 foot too high) and too big (exceeds allowable size for non-habitable spaces — garage and outdoor kitchen - by 59 1/2 square feet) while also violating fire and life safety separation between structure (4 1/2 feet instead of 10 feet). Under state law, these are know as variances and are only allowed under certain conditions. The parcel has to have special circumstances, none of which apply to this specific parcel. AND the County has to make specific findings of justification, none of which are given. For this project, the County seems willing to grant the applicant special privileges that others don’t get to enjoy. That’s against the law. The County has a long history of trying to sneak around state law pertaining to variances. Apparently undeterred, it marches on.
An interesting additional aspect is that the project is about adding a guest room, pool house and outdoor kitchen for an existing home in an upscale neighborhood under the guise of providing additional affordable housing for the region via an accessory dwelling over the garage. Accessory dwellings (mother-in-law apartments), formerly enabled by state law at 600 square feet, are now allowed at 1200 square feet. That size is more about converting single-family neighborhoods into duplexes instead of accommodating an elderly relative. Well, so be it, it’s state law. Except, in this case, the rather expansive guest quarters (1189 square feet) involve an indoor kitchen, an outdoor kitchen, a “front door” off the main house’s swimming pool, and a bedroom suite accessed through the current property owner’s proposed new home office. Is this how the “housing crisis” gets solved?