Three homeowners were granted forgiveness for buildings they have begun or completed without a permit during a Tuesday meeting of the Forsyth County Zoning Board of Appeals.
Chairman Jack Shoemake emphasized the importance of checking with the county on whether a building permit is required before getting started — or risking losing what’s been completed.
The five-member panel was unanimously agreeable to two of the requests for variances, including one for a garage partly built in a side yard setback and another for a shed slab placed in an exterior yard setback.
The third request, however, passed on a 4-1 vote, with Debra Bradley opposed, following much scrutiny by the board and some opposition from nearby property owners.
A Shorewood subdivision resident completed a front porch that abutted the property line next to the gravel road.
Marian Meguiar said she didn’t understand the permit requirements, since a slab had been placed.
Her builder agreed that there was some confusion between his wife and the county office, and he didn’t think a permit was needed due to the existing concrete that the porch was built around.
Some of her neighbors in the northeast Forsyth subdivision spoke in favor of the addition, stating it matched the community aesthetics and didn’t impede travel on the road.
However, Keith Sapp, the man who originally built the home and owns several others in the neighborhood, saw dangers with allowing the porch to remain next to the property line.
The home received a 25-foot variance when built, Sapp said, and this puts the house right up on the road, which is more narrow than the modern requirements.
He expressed concerns for traffic visibility and setting a standard in the community, as did John Mitchell, who also owns several homes in the subdivision.
Zoning board members said their decisions don’t set precedent and discussed the difficulty of applying current standards in communities built decades ago.
If no appeal is made to the variance approval, Meguiar will still need to get a building permit for the completed deck and finish the full process.