A misplaced surveyors’ stake is causing headaches on St. George Island.
At the Feb. 18 county meeting, commissioners discussed a request for an after-the-fact variance to the county building code at length. The county’s Board of Adjustment (BOA) recommended the variance be granted.
William and Donna Nichols, owners of a house at 1080 Gulf Beach Drive, want permission to leave their new cement swimming pool at its current location, even though it is six-and-one-half feet over the 10-foot setback line at the rear of their lot.
Williams told commissioners he had the property surveyed and obtained the necessary permits before construction the pool in December.
County Planner Alan Pierce said a neighbor, Eric Myers, came to the planning and building office prior to the pool’s construction and complained the survey was incorrect and that the pool would encroach on the setback. Pierce said he showed Myers the plans and permit and told him the pool complied with the building code.
Construction of the pool began and Myers complained to Nichols. Both men contacted the original surveyor, Wade Brown, of Edwin G. Brown and Associates of Crawfordville. Brown returned to the site Jan. 2 and discovered a second stake on the southeast corner of the property, about nine feet closer to the Nichols home. Brown determined this was the correct stake marking the Nichols’ property line, and that his original survey was in error.
Brown said, at that time, the pool was 80 percent complete, according to Cox Pools, the contractor. Brown said he offered to construct a fence or install landscaping to buffer the pool but the Myerses refused, and said they wanted the pool moved. Brown said his company carries insurance to pay for moving the pool, if necessary.
William Nichols addressed commissioners and termed the situation “unfortunate.”
“My wife and I recently retired and wanted to fulfill our dream of living down on the island,” he said. “That included renovations to the house and installing a pool.”
The Myerses were represented by an attorney, John Grant of Tallahassee, who said the variance application did not meet legal requirements. He said the Nicholses, as property owners, were responsible for the actions of their contractors and that, under Florida law, the request to move the pool is reasonable.
Angie Myers said she was concerned about noise and activity in a pool so close to her home.
“We too want to retire to St. George Island,” she said. “This is certainly nothing personal. It’s about having an expensive piece of property that may decrease in value. Mr. Brown has liability insurance to pay for this. We shouldn’t have to pay for a mistake that’s not our fault.”
The Myerses said they plan to construct a deck next month on land adjacent to the pool.
Grant said that in addition to encroaching on the setback on the south side, the pool encroaches on the eastern setback into the public right of way. Commissioner Smokey Parrish said it appeared to him from the diagram provided in his packet, there was a second encroachment.
Pierce said he had not been made aware of the additional encroachment.
County Attorney Michael Shuler said the BOA must review the second encroachment before commissioners could act on a request for any variance.
Commissioner voted unanimously to table the discussion until the request returned to the BOA.