Monday, April 15, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
Ph: 336.228.7851

THE PUBLIC ASKS: Has city signed off on new wall around old Burlington home?

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QUESTION: Did the city of Burlington approve the construction of a brick fence around a residence near the Alamance Country Club that was once home to the late Marshall P. Koury? Is this 6-foot-tall structure even allowed under the city’s development rules?

ANSWER: The 6-foot wall that’s going up at 2521 Pineway Drive may have hit some neighbors like the proverbial ton of bricks. But this red brick enclosure does, in fact, have the imprimatur of Burlington’s municipal government, which has not only signed off on the wall’s construction but also its deviation from the city’s usual standard for wall heights in residential zones.

Generally speaking, Burlington’s unified development ordinance caps the height of a wall within a residential zone at a maximum of four feet. The ordinance does permit walls up to six feet in height “on through lots bounding a street on the front and the rear.” But this exception only applies to walls at the rear of the building – and only when they’re located outside the setback line for building.

These regulations appear to have posed some problems at 2521 Pineway Drive, where a spacious, ranch-style residence occupies just under an acre of land at the confluence of Saddle Club Road with Pineway and Shadowbrook drives.

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Located within spitting distance of the Alamance Country Club, this long-time abode of the late Marshall P. Koury was recently purchased by Douglas C. Boteler of Burlington. County real estate records indicate that Boteler acquired this property from Koury’s heirs in July of 2022 for a sum of $700,000. Two months later, Boteler received the city’s permission to renovate or expand the 60-year-old domicile. But the new owner’s plans seem to have run up against both a literal and a metaphorical wall when he became interested in erecting barrier to safeguard his investment.

In January of this year, Boteler or his representatives held a “pre-application conference” with city staff members to discuss the permits needed to build a fence or a wall around the property. Shortly thereafter, an attorney in Boteler’s employ applied for a variance from the city’s restrictions on wall height. This application was passed along to Burlington’s board of adjustment, which held a formal hearing on March 14 to consider the particulars of the request.

In the application, Boteler’s attorney, Ryan Moffitt, lays out a number factors that he believes entitle his client to a variance from the city’s development rules.

“The ordinance provisions…do not fully account for the unique and challenging circumstances that the property faces,” Moffitt declares, “most notably, the fact that it is bounded on three sides by heavily-traveled public roads, and the property’s unique shape and features.

[Story continues below rendering of future brick wall and recent photo of brick on site in preparation for building the wall around the house.]

“From the standpoint of the ordinance’s privacy and security objectives, the standard four foot height maximum along the front and side property lines…are inadequate to deter prying eyes and potential intruders…The circumstances of the property [also] create an excessive and unnecessary safety risk to the property and its occupants.”

Moffitt went on to present the board of adjustment with a site plan and several architectural renderings to give its members a clear sense of what his client has in mind for the proposed wall. According to these documents, the red-brick barrier would be interspersed with stretches of iron fencing – with gaps to accommodate driveways on both the Pineway and Shadowbrook sides of the property. Meanwhile, a solid brick “privacy wall” would run along the entirety of the lot’s Saddle Club frontage.

In his pitch to the board of adjustment, Moffitt asked the members of this quasijudicial body to allow the wall’s height to reach a maximum height of six feet. He also requested to have height of the structure measured “from the finished grade of the property rather than the grade of the road at Pineway,” and he sought permission for portions of it to be built within an existing power line easement to make it consistent “with the location of a pre-existing wall” that overlooks Shadowbrook Drive.

After hearing from Boteler’s lawyer, the board of adjustment voted 5-to-0 to tentatively accept the request for a variance. The board formalized this decision in a written ruling that its members unanimously approved at a subsequent meeting on April 11.

“The property owner produced material, competent, and substantial evidence to show satisfaction of the five criteria for granting a variance,” the board’s ruling went on to conclude. “The property owner is hereby GRANTED the variance…”


THE PUBLIC ASKS: Have a question about a matter of public record? Call The Alamance News at (336) 228-7851; write to the newspaper at P.O. Box 431, Graham, NC 27253; or e-mail alamancenews@mail.com.

If it’s a topic in the public domain — a matter of public record, including issues of government, courts, etc. — we’ll try to find the answer and print it in ‘The Public Asks’ column. (Please furnish as much complete and specific information as possible.)

Note: Issues regarding businesses — including salaries, policies, and practices — are usually not matters of public record, unless they are the subject of governmental or regulatory action, a court suit, or law enforcement activity.

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