April 23, 2015

This is a follow up to our story on the Special ASRB meeting on February 23rd. We have not followed particular applications in the past but based on the many complaints we have received about the ASRB, we wanted to see for ourselves. Our conclusion is that the ASRB is micro-managing and the process is flawed. You can review ASRB meetings here on MooTube.

Based on our observation of the ASRB in action on these two matters and horror stories we have herd, we think that:

• *The purview of the ASRB needs to be carefully and unambiguously circumscribed.

• *It should be limited to ensure compliance with Codes and Guidelines, health and safety and comments on aesthetics limited to those aspects which can be visible off-site.

• *Conceptual Review should be voluntary.

• *It should be clear to the ASRB members and the Applicant that the ASRB is a recommending body only and not a decision maker.

• *There should be a strict limit on how many times the ASRB should review a project unless the Applicant volunteers to return in an effort to address the Board concerns and get a more favorable recommendation.

Alta Mesa Rd Project. The project is proposing new additions that total 2129 square feet to an existing residence and landscape and site improvements. The Code requires both Conceptual and Formal Review by the ASRB.

The ASRB applauded the design but even though they liked the design, they want a hay load of it changed. What is more they still required the property owners to come back before them once again for an additional Conceptual Review. Since they already expressed their concerns. It is hard to see why they need to review the project again in advance of Formal Review. Imagine if they did not like the design!

The ASRB’s concerns did not strike us as having much merit:

*They commented that vegetation is not considered mitigation for design issues. We do not understand this comment since vegetation is often used to mitigate concerns. For example, trees can hide a structure and eliminate visual impacts.

*Parking is a nightmare in the Glens and often presents a challenge for the fire department since much of the road is only wide enough for 1 car at a time. Thus, the ASRB direction to reduce the size of the garage because of massing seems counter-productive.

*Then they want windows that are better for wildlife? Good lord. We understand not lighting a house up like an airport but these are internal house lights.

*Moreover the ASAB was concerned that fencing was not shown on plans. The fact that fencing was not shown on the plan is likely because the fencing is not within their purview and they should not comment on it.

Friars Lane Project. This project consists of a new three-car garage that would be built into the hillside with a green roof, some improvements to the existing residence and landscaping. This project went to ASRB because it is located in the Western hills. Most likely a property on the flat land would not need to jump through the ASRB hoops. Nonetheless, this project also requires both Conceptual Design review and Formal Design Review. The ASRB told them to cut their water features. While we agree that in a drought water features that may waste water should be avoided, this decision should not be in the ASRB purview. Likewise the question of whether trees should be removed during the bird nesting season is not part of their jurisdiction.

Many towns and cities do not have a design review. Many that do have it only for specific items and generally those are projects that can be seen from offsite. A good design review process can help keep our COWmunity the asset that we all love but the current system hog-ties all COWS and needs reform.

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