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Thursday, September 28, 2006

County's Unfair Demand To Lop Off a House's Top

We live a few doors down from Anh Trihn-Mai and Phong Mai, new homeowners in Oakton who cannot get an occupancy permit from Fairfax County because of a revised calculation of roof height requirements.

Our neighbors are first-generation Americans who have worked hard, saved their money and started a successful business. With young children and a large extended family, they've invested their life savings in building their dream home -- and they did it all by the rules. Their architect designed the roof using the same methodology that has been approved by the county for almost 20 years. Their builder obtained every required construction permit and built the house exactly to those permits.

Now that it's finished, the house is beautiful and fits perfectly with other homes in our neighborhood -- many of which have roofs just as high. So, months after completion, why can't our neighbors move in? Because the county, after approving the design and issuing all the permits for construction, has decided to "clarify" (i.e. "change") its height rules. The county wants our neighbors to tear off their roof and redesign it.

We are outraged by this bureaucratic nonsense. Though it is fine to change the rules for those who are beginning the process of construction, it is patently unfair to retroactively change the rules after a home is permitted and constructed. We ask our county officials: By requiring our neighbors to chop off the top of their house, what are you doing to the aesthetics of our neighborhood? What are you doing to our property values? Where is your sense of fairness and common sense?

Jane Fortson Eisenach

and Jeffrey A. Eisenach

Oakton

Jeffrey Eisenach is chairman of Criterion Economics, a consulting firm in the District, and Jane Fortson Eisenach is retired as an investment banker who worked in Atlanta securing low- and moderate-income housing.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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