Webster Councilman Apologizes to Homeowners for ARB Debacle
Ken Burns sent a letter of apology to Rebecca and Brian Jones for their recent experience in trying to get a home addition approved by the city's Architectural Review Board.
Webster Groves Councilman Ken Burns recently sent Rebecca and Brian Jones a letter apologizing for the experience they had in working with the city's Architectural Review Board.
The couple had submitted plans for an addition to their home at 732 Clark Ave. that would have converted the home's attic into a bedroom and master bathroom. They used Design Build Solutions as their contractor.
Burns, who is also an architect, accused the board at a recent city council meeting of acting unprofessionally and disregarding established zoning principles when it reviewed the application. Jim Bulejski, the board's acting chairman, has defended its decision.
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In the letter, Burns said he found nothing about the design that merited the treatment or rulings the Jones' received from the board. He complimented them for filing an appeal to the board's decision. (A copy of the letter is attached as a pdf file.) Burns also sent a similar letter to the project's contractor.
"Unfortunately, I cannot make amends for the horrible experience you were made to suffer through," Burns said in the letter. "I can only offer my sincere apology as an elected official and member of the architectural profession...."
Brian Jones said he was pleasantly surprised when he received the letter of apology and grateful to the council.
"The situation was frustrating to say the least," he said. "It was unfair because the board based its decisions on personal architectural preferences. It had nothing to do with code or safety reasons. It was an abuse of power."
Jones said his contractor had attended the board meetings on his behalf. He said the contractor had gone before the board for three months beginning in May. In July, the board rejected the final plan.
"At one point, the board wanted us to build the addition on the back of the home," Jones said. "We didn't want to do that. Why eat up more green space?"
Bulejski said the designs submitted to the board were unsatisfactory. He said they were incomplete graphically and lacked clarity.
Shortly after the plan was rejected, Jones filed an appeal on the decision. Two days before he was scheduled to appear for the hearing, a staff member issued a revision to the board's final decision, declaring it to be a "no action" finding.
Jones said that shortly after finding out an appeal wouldn't be needed, and the plans could be submitted to the city's building commissioner, the costs for the project came in much higher than anticipated, and it was cancelled.
"I think we're just going to try and convert the interior of the attic into a bedroom and forget about the bathroom," he said.
Tomorrow on Patch, we'll learn more about why the board's decision was considered a "no action" finding.