On Monday the city Board of Supervisors approved a plan to allow local homeowner Steven Lyons to buy city-owned land adjacent to his property.
In 2010, Lyons bought a Hickory Street home and an adjacent vacant lot between Hickory and Jackson Streets.
The lot had no street access, and, according to city agencies, in order to build on it, Lyons would need to establish access by paving a significant portion of the adjoining 2nd Street public right-of-way between the two streets, which is currently occupied by community gardens.
Lyons decided that he didn’t want to construct a street through the gardens and build a house that would tower over other Jackson Street homes, but he still wanted to expand his living space to better accommodate his 1-year-old son, wife, and her parents. “I’d like to have a bedroom for my son,” Lyons said.
Lyons proposed different alternatives to paving over the community gardens and building on the interior lot, and, after many rounds of negotiations with close-by neighbors. Supervisor Della Robertson brokered the current plan amidst opposition from some city residents.
At the hearing, Supervisor Robertson introduced the issue by saying, “I believe we have two choices before us today: we can approve the [plan], thereby allowing this project to move forward and protecting the open space in the back lot, protecting the community gardens into perpetuity, and funding improvements to the garden. Or we can reject the proposal, adding density to the neighborhood, losing open space, and driving a road through the garden.”
The Board of Supervisors vote allows Lyons to buy a 15-by- 124 -foot strip of the community gardens adjacent to his property. This parcel, plus the original two lots owned by Lyons, will be joined into one, effectively revoking his right to build another structure on the interior lot. An independent appraiser hired by the city determined that the value of the strip minus the value lost by combining all three lots was $42,500.
The $42,500 from the sale and an additional approximately $55,500 pledged by Lyons will go towards community garden improvements, including paving the adjoining dirt path, installing security lighting, building a greenhouse, and providing compost bins.
“I would not call [the plan] a contentious issue because contention implies that there has been a lot of opposition, but I will say that it has been a noisy issue, especially in the past six months.” Local resident Denis Strong said during the hearing’s public comment period.