Independence takes issue with guest apartment

The Independence City Council Tuesday, May 14, puzzled over what to do when a resident asks for approval of improvements to his property after they already are completed. And City Councilors also noticed that the improvements did not meet all of the requirements in related city ordinances.

At the meeting, the City Council also took up other business. Here are some meeting highlights.



The “after the fact” approval request came from Todd and Laura Zaugg, who asked for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a non-rental guest apartment on their Rural Residential property at 5585 Lake Sarah Heights Drive. The couple built a two-story walk out garage separate from their single family home on or about November 2004. The city of Independence did its final inspection and gave its approval in fall 2005. After that the homeowners finished an upper floor living space and converted it into a non-residential guest apartment.

Meanwhile, Independence passed a non-rental guest apartment ordinance in 2010. City officials discovered the Zaugg guest apartment last year and asked the Zauggs to either remove the improvement or apply for an after the fact building permit, as well as a CUP. The couple opted for the building permit/CUP course of action.

City Planner Mark Kaltsas reviewed with the City Council the ordinances pertaining to the requests. He said the city historically has allowed non-rental guest apartments and guest houses only if they do not include a defined kitchen. Pictures of the Zaugg apartment show a small kitchen with refrigerator, sink, oven and stove top. Also, the apartment exceeds the maximum size requirement in one of the ordinances.

When the Planning Commission reviewed the Zaugg request, commissioners commented that they did not want two principal structures on the same lot, Kaltsas said. They gave the applicants two choices. One was making the accessory dwelling unit a non-rental guest apartment by removing the stove top and range. The other was converting some dwelling space into non-dwelling space, such as storage.

City Attorney Bob Vose explained legal issues surrounding the request. He said some cities do not allow after the fact approvals of projects. Other cities ask for increased fees for after the fact approvals.

If the City Council asks him to draft an approval resolution for a non-rental guest apartment, the resolution should include reasons why a full kitchen would not be allowed, Vose said.

Todd Zaugg said that he and Laura did not intend to construct the apartment behind the city’s back. He thought the builder had taken care of getting all of the necessary approvals.

After that the City Council directed staff to draft a resolution approving a CUP for a non-rental guest apartment and stating that a full kitchen would not be allowed.



The City Council directed City Attorney Vose to draft an agreement that would facilitate the access of six families to Lake Sarah from Lake Sarah Heights Drive. Five of the families live on Lake Sarah Heights Drive in Greenfield and one lives on Shady Beach Circle in Independence.

Attorney Richard Schieffer spoke on behalf of the six families who have an easement across the property of Randy Kyrola. The families must cross Kyrola’s property in order to get to Lake Sarah from the cul-de-sac at the end of Lake Sarah Heights Drive.

Brady Anderson is a member of one of the families seeking improved access to the lake. He said his main concern was access during the winter. During the 2012-13 winter Kyrola used his snow plow to deposit snow in front of the easement, thus blocking the access.

Kyrola said he had thought he was helping the snow removal situation. The cul-de-sac is small and city snow plowing efforts made it difficult for him to get out of his driveway. So he pushed accumulated snow into the Lake Sarah easement.



Donald Baird and Adam Young, of A + D Properties, got City Council approvals that will enable them to construct a 6,000 square foot metal fabrication shop on property at 2076 County Road 90.

In anticipation of the project, Baird and Young in January asked the city to rezone the property from A-Agricultural to CLI-Commercial Light Industrial, but their site is located next to Agricultural property. As a result, they needed a variance from the side yard setback ordinance. They also needed a variance from driveway and parking area requirements so that they can construct a driveway and parking area without concrete curb and gutter.



The City Council also:

DELAYED until Aug. 1 a decision on whether or not to demolish the Soley house located near Independence City Hall. The house has been for sale during a slow real estate market. Mayor Marvin Johnson said this is a good time of year for home sales, and someone might purchase the house before Aug. 1.

APPROVED the city’s application for a two-day temporary 3.2 beer license for Independence’s Heritage Fest in September.

CANCELLED the regular City Council meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, due to lack of an agenda.