Court up­holds Ne­wark board’s rul­ing in dis­pute over garage

Newark Post - - LOCAL NEWS - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­

A Delaware Su­pe­rior Court judge has up­held a de­ci­sion by the Ne­wark Board of Ad­just­ment in a neigh­bor­hood dis­pute over a pro­posed garage.

The law­suit con­cerned an Oc­to­ber 2016 de­ci­sion by the board to al­low Ti­mothy Chopko and his wife, Ce­cilia Car­roll, to build a garage in the front yard of their home at 250 Dal­lam Road.

A car col­lec­tor, Chopko pro­posed build­ing a 26-by40-foot garage, where he planned to store four of his cars.

Un­der city code, garages must be con­structed in the rear por­tion of a yard. How­ever, Chopko told the board that his .58-acre prop­erty is un­usual be­cause his house is built near the back of the prop­erty. With 85 per­cent of the prop­erty de­fined as a front yard, there is no room to build a garage with­out a vari­ance, he ar­gued.

The garage would be built off to the side of the front yard, not di­rectly in front of the house.

The prop­erty al­ready has a two-car garage, but Chopko said he plans to con­vert it to a bed­room, bath­room and laun­dry room due to the small size of the house.

Three neigh­bors submitted let­ters in sup­port of the plan, but next-door neigh­bor Fran­cis Fierro at­tended the board of ad­just­ment meet­ing to voice his op­po­si­tion.

He ar­gued that the garage would neg­a­tively af­fect his prop­erty value and change the res­i­den­tial char­ac­ter of the neigh­bor­hood. He also wor­ried that Chopko would pave a por­tion of the yard in front of the garage to use for ad­di­tional park­ing.

The board ap­proved the vari­ance unan­i­mously, with the con­di­tions that the drive­way would go straight to Dal­lam Road with no ad­di­tional park­ing lot and Chopko would use veg­e­ta­tion to screen the garage from view.

Af­ter the de­ci­sion, Fierro ap­pealed it to Delaware Su­pe­rior Court, fil­ing suit against the board, the city and Chopko. Fierro ar­gued that the board should not have granted the vari­ance for the garage be­cause it es­sen­tially amounts to re­zon­ing the area and be­cause Chopko failed to demon­strate he would suf­fer a hard­ship if the vari­ance was de­nied.

On Jan. 18, Judge Richard R. Cooch up­held the board’s de­ci­sion, rul­ing that there is no ev­i­dence of le­gal er­ror in the de­ci­sion.

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