The village council voted not to allow the owner of a dilapidated coach house at 940 Ferdinand Ave. to repair the home’s foundation, reasoning that the village should not support extending the life of the home, which does not conform with current village zoning standards.
The property owner, Kenneth Wysocki, has owned the home since 1983 and was looking to secure a reverse mortgage but was told that he would have to retrofit the coach house with foundations in order to do so. Wysocki’s son lives in the coach house, according to a village report provided to the commissioners.
Commissioner Terry Steinbach expressed concerns that the village should make more of an effort to work with the property owner. Similar concerns were expressed by Jolyn Crawford, a member of the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which recently voted 5-2 vote to deny Wysocki’s request.
“This is a long-time resident. It’s not like they’re going to develop and sell it, they’re just going to continue to live there,” said Steinbach. “We on this board have passed other variances allowing non-conforming buildings to be inhabited for developers, and that didn’t seem to be a problem.”
Building department head Michael Boyle responded that the difference was that those properties were still “viable products” and only needed surface improvements. “Once [non-conforming properties] have outlived their useful life they’re supposed to be taken out of service, and if ever there was an example of a building that outlived its useful life it’s this one,” he said.
Commissioner Patrick Doolin agreed. “We certainly want to be sensitive to residents but the question is do we want to perpetuate non-conforming uses. The question is not are you a developer or a resident,” he said.
The coach house is considered non-conforming because it is a second main building on a lot and is too close to the side yard lot line as well as the rear lot line, according to a village report.
The resident hoped to replace a wood foundation with a concrete one beneath an existing bathroom addition, as the house has apparently settled several inches. The owner also hoped to replace the steps and landings at both entrances and to replace the columns that support the front of the coach house’s roof.
“I know this property quite well,” said Commissioner Mark Hosty, who said he has a financial interest in another property on the block. “They wouldn’t be in front of us if they weren’t trying to get a loan. It’s been dilapidated for quite some time.”
Steinbach was still unconvinced, noting that if the council denied the resident the right to repair the home the resident would continue living in a home that was not safe.
Village Attorney Mike Durkin said that the village did not know whether the home was safe as it had not conducted an interior assessment and could only legally do so if the homeowner voluntarily allowed it or if the village went to court to get a warrant. Instead, he said, the issue was whether to extend the life of a property that the village has an interest in eliminating at some point in the future due to its non-conforming status.
The council voted 3-1, with Steinbach dissenting, to deny the request to repair the property. Commissioner Tim Gillian was absent.