A Lafayette couple’s plans to build a massive, Tudor-style English country house in a neighborhood of single-level ranch homes were dashed Thursday when a Court of Appeal decision failed to find in their favor.
Not only did the Contra Costa County Court of Appeal affirm an earlier negative decision against Plaintiffs Nancy and Michael Woodall but, in a move sure to give second thoughts to those pondering a similar course of legal action, it ruled that the city is entitled to recover all monies it spent defending itself against their suit.
While an exact amount was not immediately known, insiders described the city’s court costs as substantive and – since those costs were paid by taxpayers – declared the appellate court decision as a win for the city and its residents.
The case took form in November 2013 when the Woodalls filed an application with the city seeking permission to demolish their existing single-story, 4,111-square-foot ranch home in the Happy Valley Dell subdivision and construction of a two-story, 5,595-square-foot residence.
While speaking approvingly of the overall design scheme city officials expressed concern about the scope of the project, which they said overshadowed neighboring homes and presented a drastic departure from the area’s look and feel.
Those concerns gained additional credence when neighbors, notified of the Woodall’s intent, began expressing their dissatisfaction over the plan with city leaders and planners.
Although the city’s design review commission initially approved the design, the Lafayette Planning Commission and City Council denied approval, citing the project’s incompatibility with the neighborhood and unreasonably affected views of adjacent properties. The Woodalls sought review of the decision, arguing that the Council’s administrative findings were not supported by substantial evidence. The trial court denied the writ petition, a decision affirmed Thursday.