The acting chairman of the Webster Groves Architectural Review Board is backing the group's decision against a homeowner's request to convert his attic into living space.
At a recent city council meeting, Councilman Ken Burns, who is also an architect, accused the board of acting unprofessionally and disregarding established zoning principles when reviewing the application.
See previous story:
Jim Bulejski, the board's acting chairman, told Patch the designs submitted on the project, which would have changed the exterior of the home, were not satisfactory. Design Build Solutions in Fenton was the contractor representing Brian and Rebecca Jones, who own the home at 732 Clark Ave.
"This particular contractor wasn't cutting the mustard on the designs," he said. "His presentations were not only incomplete graphically, but they lacked clarity. Had the applicants had come to any of the meetings, they would have seen the shortcomings of the contractor's presentations."
Bulejski said the preliminary design of the 2-and-1/2 story home took on the look of a 3-story home, and that design wasn't compatible with the architecture of neighboring homes.
He said that when the committee reviews applications, it is searching for plans that have proper massing, proportions and style consistent with the adjacent neighborhood. Plus, he said plans need to be similar in detail to the existing building. The minutes of the July 20 reflect the reasons the board rejected the final plans.
"There's a proper way to add to a building with grace and skill, and we just weren't seeing it with these designs," Bulejski said.
Lauren Monge, a partner with Design Build Solutions, said the board, and in particular, Bulejski, is "dead against any design builder's work that is done except by an architect."
Monge said, "He (Bulejski) has told me on numerous occasions that we aren't charging enough for our services, especially for our project design work." Monge implied that Bulejski was losing business because of his company's design work charges.
Monge said his company has had a 100-percent satisfaction rate among customers. He added that this was the "first time he has ever gone though anything like this" with a review board.
"It was absolutely preposterous," Monge said, referring to the situation. "There is a major conflict of interest with just having architects on the board."
Councilman Burns also said that on two occasions, one of the board members threw temper tantrums during reviews of the plan. Burns called for the immediate removal of the member, but declined to name the person.
Monge said the board member Burns was referring to was Bulejski.
"He (Bulejski) is the one who lost his temper two times," Monge said. "The first time it happened, he called and apologized to me."
Stay tuned to Patch for further updates to this story.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story had stated that Monge said Bulejski had told him he wasn't charging enough for estimates. However, it was project design work Monge was referring to. The article has been updated to reflect the change.