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Court upholds ruling on Piotti's variance

(ran Beach edition)

A circuit judge ruled last week that the city's Board of Adjustment acted fairly when it denied a variance for resident Len Piotti, who is now a candidate for mayor.

Piotti last year asked the board to allow him to convert his garage into extra living space for his family. Piotti hoped to convert the garage into a laundry and recreation room after his daughter died and he took permanent custody of her two children.

Although Piotti's home conformed to the building codes when it was built, a change in setback requirements in 1994 made the project non-conforming. That meant Piotti had to seek a variance to convert the garage, even though he was not adding additional area to his home.

Piotti was required to demonstrate a hardship to qualify for the variance, and Judge John Schaefer ruled Monday that the Board of Adjustment acted properly when it ruled that Piotti's hardship _ taking custody of his grandchildren _ was self-imposed.

"This court finds that the board accorded procedural due process, observed the essential requirements of the law, and that its decision was supported by competent, substantial evidence," Schaefer wrote.

Piotti, who questions how the city allowed a developer to build more than 100 feet streetfront than the rules allow but turned down a request that didn't involve any additional area, said he now plans to return to the Board of Adjustment and try again for the variance.

"What else can I do?" Piotti said. "I need this room for my children."