The Variance

8 Apr

I know I’ve mentioned the driveway before. Like here and here. Whelp, Its time to do something about it. I got/am getting a few quotes on new blacktop but I’m just not really feeling like paving half of my yard is an excellent idea nor is it cheap. So here I am applying for a variance. My town only allows asphalt or concrete for driveways and I’m campaigning for compacted crushed stone with a paver curb. The ladies at the Town Hall said that this was a first (someone asking to go from blacktop to stone) so they weren’t really sure what my chances are. As part of the process I needed to write a Letter of Intent and it spells out pretty clearly what I want to do and why so rather then writing about it again I’m just going to post it here. Its due tomorrow afternoon so I f anyone catches any typos or has additional points I can add to prove my case please chime in. In the mean time I have this ugly a** sign in my front yard alerting the neighbors that I am asking for a variance but they all already know and gave me the thumbs up since I had them sign my Letter of Intent to show they thought it was OK. I also included a few pictures to show the board and will get some samples of the stone and pavers I would l like to use.



April 5, 2013

Town of XXXX Zoning Board of Appeals
Rochester, NY XXXXX

I am writing in order to provide an explicit written statement as to the nature and intent of the variance being requested at the property located at XXXXXX, in XXXXXXXX, New York. The existing driveway at this location is in disrepair and in need of improvement. In many areas the asphalt has buckled and heaved making pulling in and out difficult for both myself and visitors. I would like to propose replacing the existing asphalt with compacted crushed stone or similar product including a paver curb and apron subject to approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals for the following reasons:

1.) To Promote Proper Drainage: The narrow driveway, house and garage sit slightly lower than the adjacent property at located at XXXXXXXXX which creates a drainage problem during heavy rains. Replacing the asphalt with compacted crushed stone would allow more water to penetrate the surface rather than running into the garage or the basement of my home. Additionally, this type of driveway would allow more rain and snow runoff to permeate and recharge ground water instead of running into already overloaded town sewers.

2.) A Green Solution: Many towns and cities like ours are encouraging their residents to replace imperious surface such as asphalt with pervious surfaces, not only in order to reduce storm water run-off as mentioned earlier, but to aid in other areas as well. For instance a product like crushed stone will not soak up as much heat from the sun during the summer and contribute to a “Heat Island” effect in our community during hot summer days. Additionally, crushed stone is a natural product, whereas asphalt is a product derived from nonrenewable resources like oil and requires consistent application of other chemical sealers to maintain. An asphalt or concrete driveway has a limited lifespan and will untimely need to be hauled away and disposed of whereas a driveway of compacted crushed stone can last as long as it is properly maintained.

3.) Historically Accurate: When searching for a home I looked specifically for an older house. XXXXXXX is an example of a very simple craftsman bungalow. I have read that the architects of these types of homes were reacting to the increased machination of the Industrial Revolution and as a result strived to create modest homes which reflected the work of skilled craftsman as well as the environment around them. As I have worked to renovate this house myself over the past two years I have kept this in mind and have worked, when appropriate, to make decisions in keeping with the original intentions of the style. Based on other homes that I have read about I understand that a crushed stone driveway would be in keeping with what would likely have been here in the early 1930’s and would complement the style of the house.

4.) Aesthetically Pleasing: In comparison to asphalt I find the crushed stone with a paver border and apron to be more aesthetically pleasing than a large expanse of concrete or asphalt. I understand that I could stamp and dye materials such as asphalt or concrete but I would not find it as historically accurate, green or cost efficient.

5.) Easily and Inexpensively Maintained, Installed or Modified: Although the crushed stone driveway will certainly not be maintenance free, I do believe that the repairs to it will be much more easily done. The paver border and apron will keep most stones in their place and out of lawns and streets. In addition, compacting the stone will create a hard surface helping to lock the stones in place, allowing, much easier snow removal and keeping dust to a minimum. A crushed stone drive will also be less expensive to install than concrete, asphalt or pavers. Of course, should the crushed stone cause any issues, or prove to be too great of an inconvenience it will serve as an excellent base and can easily be paved at a later time by myself or a latter homeowner.

Although it will be the only driveway of its type on the street I do not believe that the change will be unsightly. The proposed change should do little to change the character of the neighborhood as many of the homes in this area were likely to have been originally built with such driveways.

Alternative solutions which do not require a variance are asphalt or concrete but they will not address the drainage issue as well, as be green, or be historically accurate. Although attractive, pavers would be cost prohibitive for the area in question.

The driveway will not increase in size or layout, and would be a restoration, rather than a renovation. Therefore, I do not believe this variance to be substantial.

This variance will have an improved effect on physical and environmental conditions as it will reduce a drainage problem, address the uneven nature of the driveway, help keep the property from contributing to the already overloaded storm sewers and improve the curb appeal of the home.

I do not believe this situation to be self-created.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Anyways, that’s what’s up. The hearing is May 6th. I’ll keep you posted.


6 Responses to “The Variance”

  1. Jayne April 9, 2013 at 3:37 AM #

    Outstanding letter! You gave excellent reasons for wanting the crushed rock driveway. In my opinion, having the support of your neighbors when asking for a variance is half the battle. I’m so happy they support you. Here’s hoping the city allows it!

  2. Steve@UrbanCottage April 9, 2013 at 6:56 AM #

    I think it sounds great too. I don’t know if you have any schematics or photos of what it would look like. I think I know what you mean by paver border and apron mean but these people may not and a picture paints a thousand words.

    I also agree with Jayne that you should ask some of your neighbors to write letters of support to the Zoning Board of Appeals. They could speak to the work you’ve done to restore your house, keep it maintained and the environmental benefits of this project.

    I assume you’ll have to present your case at the hearing so showing up with packets of photos any visual aids you can up with to support your application.

    Good luck!

  3. trudy April 9, 2013 at 12:52 PM #

    One typo: untimely

    I am not sure what your near the end sentence means: “I do not believe this situation to be self-created.”

    Sounds good to me.

    • ittybittybungalow April 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM #

      Thanks Trudy. The last couple paragraphs relate directly to questions I was asked to answer in the application instructions. I can see how they would look out of place.

  4. Margaret April 9, 2013 at 2:57 PM #

    “imperious” in #2 should be “impervious.” Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: