Lennar Homes asks for variance to continue building home too close to neighbor’s house

Better Call Behnken

BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Lennar Homes, the nation’s largest homebuilder, asked a hearing officer to grant a variance so it can continue building a home too close to the next-door neighbor’s home, saying the county is partly to blame for not catching the error until the home was nearly finished.

Terry Kirschner, Land Development Director for Lennar, pointed out that the county approved his company’s permit that showed the home was just 9.5 feet away from the next home, instead of the required 12 feet.

County inspectors then failed to catch the mistake during dozens of inspections, Kirschner pointed out. When the home was red-tagged and construction was ordered to halt in November, the home was well underway and already had a buyer, he said.

Tearing the house down now and fixing the mistake, Kirschner said, would cost the builder an estimated $185,000 and cause a hardship. Besides, he characterized the situation as not a big deal.

“It’s not that obvious,” he said. “It’s only that it’s been measured now that it has become an issue, granted it doesn’t meet the 12 feet, but as a fact of reality, no one in a year from now is ever going to know that home is too close to the other one.”

Next-door-neighbor Mike Shaw disagrees and says he already had his home on the market and four potential buyers walked away, all citing the Lennar home next door as a turn-off.

“I want them to tear the home down,” he said. “Follow the rules.”

Shaw and other residents in the Rosedale neighborhood showed up in opposition to Lennar’s variance request.

Another home in the neighborhood is in a similar situation, and that builder, Ashton Woods, is expected to seek a variance in October. That home is just 7 feet, 6 inches away from Kirk Tcherneshoff’s home.

He addressed the hearing officer:

“They’re going to seek a variance for that,” he said. “Do we go to 2 feet, 1 foot? Why don’t we just make duplexes?”

Residents are worried because even county staff recommended approving the variance, admitting that their staff messed up by not catching the problem earlier.

In contrast, county officials have previously said they want Ashton Woods to tear down or move the house that is just 7 feet 6 inches away from another home. In that case, the county blamed third-party inspectors for not catching the error.

In both cases, the builder can ask for the variance. If the variance is not granted, they can appeal the decision or figure out a way to either tear down or move the home so it is in compliance. If the variance is granted, the builders would have to install a 1-hour firewall.

The hearing official has 21 days to make a decision on Lennar’s variance request and is expected to hear Ashton Woods’ variance request in October.


Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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