Proposed construction of a casita —or alternatively, an office and workshop— at 66 Bad Coyote Place was approved by the Village Council after a September 16 hearing at which Ken and Kathleen DeHoff expressed disagreement with decisions by the Planning and Zoning Office. Initially they had sought a building permit for a 600 square-foot structure labeled as a casita, but that was rejected by Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout. The DeHoffs re-submitted plans with modifications including re-labelling areas as  an office and workshop, and that was rejected as well. Another re-submittal came August 15. which the P&Z administrator approved. But in the DeHoffs’ appeal, they asked the Village Council to overturn Stout’s rejection of the original plan.

In their appeal to the Village Council, they argued, “The first submission of July 19 referred to the area as a casita with bedroom and kitchen with no appliances. The second submission of July 21 referred to the same physical area as a shop with a workbench and an office. It is clear in these two rejections that the Village takes a capricious and ambiguously broad interpretation of your new law, such that no reasonable person will be able to guess at what you may consider valid.”

The appeal further asserted that “Laurie’s stated ‘inferred conclusion’ in both rejections is that my space referred to as a casita or shop is independent and thus a dwelling unit. However, the space is not independent and not complete. There is no evidence that it by itself meets the ordinance definition for dwelling unit. The language of the ordinance is clear and unambiguous, and attempts to ‘interpret’ are capricious as best.”

After lengthy discussion on the appeal and Village Attorney Randy Autio’s defense of actions taken by the P&Z administrator, the council went into closed session to deliberate. At 7:15 p.m. they returned to an open session via Zoom and voted to uphold Stout’s rejections while finding the DeHoffs’ last submission acceptable. The backdrop for all of this has been  P&Z’s approval of a casita at a new home construction site on West Ella Drive more than a year ago. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.13 September 19, 2020 “West Ella ‘Casita’ Draws Neighbors’ Ire.”) Stout referred to that earlier controversy with chagrin at the DeHoffs’ September 17 appeal hearing. “I wish I could take it back. In hindsight, I made a mistake.”

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