CHAGRIN FALLS — With one member voting in the negative, the village Board of Zoning Appeals on Monday approved a variance to enable construction of a stone retaining wall into the south side of the Riverhaus subdivision at 180 Cleveland St.

The approval allows the backside of the 200-foot-long wall to encroach into the rear yard setback and a 7-foot easement previously obtained from a neighboring property owner by the developer Brickhaus Partners.

The 6-foot thickness of the wall created the new setback but will not narrow the driveway into the six-building townhome development.

The back of the wall will be covered by vegetation and not be visible, according to the plan.

The variance permits a change from a cement structure to a cast stone material. Brickhaus managing partner Alexandra Yonkov said this would be more aesthetically pleasing, add stability and be maintenance free.

A cement structure is prone to thaw-freeze cracking, requires patching and re-painting, Brickhaus engineer Les Yager pointed out.

Village Engineer Tim Lannon advised board members that he reviewed plans for the new retaining wall and had no objection to the change, adding that both cement and stone wall systems were comparable and not structurally different.

Village Administrator Rob Jamieson said the neighbor reviewed the change and had no objection.

Councilman Andrew Rockey voted against the variance, reminding board members that council had been petitioned in September to decide a setback variance for the cement wall.

The change, he added was a self-created hardship and not one of the tests used for granting a variance.

Remaining board members Rachel Freshman-Johnson, James Holdren, Lisa R. Kramer and Chairman Wade Fricke voted to grant the variance.

Village Council could be asked to hear the variance a second time if three council members petition to do so and within 15 days from the zoning board’s approval.

A veteran reporter and columnist, Barbara Christian has been covering Chagrin Falls since 1967 and is currently responsible for Chagrin Falls village events, government and school board news along with her weekly column "Window on Main Street."

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