Developer builds two half million dollar houses in an Atlanta suburb. I guess their tape measurer's weren't working that day...
From the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, Friday December 8, 2006
A majority of the Forsyth County Commission decided late Thursday that premier developer John Wieland Homes can bring out the hammer, nails and checkbook — not the wrecking ball — to save two half-million-dollar homes that were built too close together.
The houses in Weston, Wieland's South Forsyth County development, were built 6 feet apart. They are 4 feet closer than the 10 feet that's required and so close that Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman has said a car fire in one driveway could easily bring the other house down.
The Forsyth County Commission voted not to force John Wieland Homes to tear down two half-million-dollar houses built 4 feet too close together. Fire-safety modifications were recommended.
District County Commissioner Brian Tam, who represents the part of the county that includes the Weston development, recommended that Wieland be allowed to finish and sell the houses, with some fire-safety modifications.
"The choice is simple: Try to find some common ground or tear the houses down," Tam said.
Two other commissioners agreed to grant embarrassed Wieland executives a variance on the houses, which were 85 to 95 percent complete when county inspectors realized last June they were too close together.
County Commissioners Dave Richard and Charles Laughinghouse opposed the variance, and Richard warned Wieland executives about proceeding. Richard said he plans to ask the new commission, which takes over in January, to overrule Thursday's 3-2 vote.
He said an experienced developer like Wieland should never have made such a mistake.
"It is extremely noticeable," Richard said. "This is a clear case of asking for forgiveness."
Terry Russell, chief executive officer for John Wieland Homes, said the company was embarrassed to ask for a variance. "It's not the way we do business," Russell said.
As part of the conditions for the variance, the company will have to tear down the front porch of one home and replace it with a smaller one to put more distance between it and the driveway of the other house. Tempered glass also has to be placed in some windows in both houses.
In addition, the company is donating $5,000 to the neighborhood, Russell said.
Bowman told commissioners that the proposed modifications will improve fire safety. But he cautioned: "The houses are very close."
Tam hinted that the county may share some blame. "This is something that should have been addressed in the early phases of construction, not when the house was done."
Weston resident Jeff Dyer appeared at an earlier meeting of the commission to ask that the builder be forced to abide by the law, even if that meant tearing down and moving one of the houses.
"It's an eyesore, and if it's allowed to stay like this, it could affect our property values," Dyer said.