OOPS: House demolished before builders realize it cannot be rebuilt in same location
The empty lot at 304 Depot St., where John Paul Price’s home was demolished and a dirt pile now sits. That area of the property is on a flood zone so Price’s new home cannot be built there. It will have to be built 7-8 feet from the street.
By Lynn J. Richardson
Several houses in Jonesborough are being rebuilt through the Home Grant Program. However, Price’s home will now have to be moved much closer to the street from its original location on his land.
According to Town Administrator Bob Browning, it was discovered after Price’s residence was demolished that it sat within a 100-year flood zone.
A new home cannot be constructed in a flood zone, forcing builders to request a variance from the Town of Jonesborough to build Price’s new home 3 feet from his front property line, putting it 7-8 feet from the actual street.
“The flood zone is right behind there,” explained J.W. Greene, town building inspector, during the Nov. 20 meeting of the Planning Commission. “In order to stay out of that, it has to come up to the road. It’s probably 7 feet, 8 feet back from the road.”
Alderman Chuck Vest, also a member of the Planning Commission, expressed concern over the significant difference in the 30 feet normally required for a front setback and the request for just 3 feet.
“That’s basically on the street,” Vest said. “We’ve got a guy who has torn down a house...I wouldn’t want to be in the guy’s shoes trying to get this house built.”
Others on the commission were concerned about how moving the house forward creates a landlocked back yard.
The property on either side of Price’s property, coupled with the house plan for the new residence, make it so that motor vehicles are unable to drive along either side of the home to the back yard. The property is bordered by railroad tracks in the rear.
“I think we have to consider how easy or difficult it would be to get a fire truck or something like that back there,” said Marion Light, commission member. “Emergency responders, if they had to get in there, how would they do that? You’d have to go on someone else’s property in order to get to the back. That’s my concern.”
Greene informed the group that builders have tried situating the house every which way, and this is the only way it will work. “If you change the house plan, it has to be re-bid,” he added.
Ultimately, Vest made a motion to approve the variance request for a reduction in a front setback from 30 feet to 3 feet. The motion also approved side setbacks being 5 feet on either side rather than 8 feet as is usually required.
The motion passed under the caveat that engineers will continue to work toward establishing elevations that will allow the house to be moved back from the street as far as possible. Hal Knight voted against granting the variance.