Neighbors have praised the improvements Andrew and Alice Kalinowski made to their Mount Prospect property.
Even Mayor Arlene Juracek had kind words for the appearance of the Kalinowskis' new concrete block patio and wood deck along the edge of the property that borders Lake Briarwood.
But, aesthetics aside, the property faces a zoning problem big enough that the Mount Prospect village board took about an hour Tuesday night trying -- unsuccessfully, for now -- to figure out a way for the Kalinowskis to avoid dismantling some of their work so they can meet the village's lot coverage requirements.
The Kalinowskis appeared before the board Tuesday appealing the village planning and zoning commission's vote against giving the couple a variation from zoning rules that allow improvements to cover only 45 percent of a lot. With the new deck and patio, the Kalinowskis' improvements cover 48 percent of their lot.
Community Development Director Bill Cooney said the matter came to the village's attention when officials were alerted that the Kalinowskis' patio and deck had been built without permits. When the Kalinowskis applied for permits, it was noticed that the size of the improvements would violate village regulations, requiring a zoning variation.
Alice Kalinowski, who lives with her husband on the 2800 block of Briarwood Drive West, told the board Tuesday that in comparison to her neighbors among the 60 lots near the lake, "Our lot is unique because of its small, curved shape."
The Kalinowskis explained that the improvements are attached to a sea wall that was already permitted and were added as a safety precaution. Alice Kalinowski said the sea wall was installed to prevent further erosion along the lake shore.
"Our property has gotten smaller, due to erosion over the years," she said.
Neighbors spoke on the couple's behalf, including Les Kent, the president of the Lake Briarwood Association.
"You couldn't have better neighbors who care more about their property," he said. "They try and make their property really look great." However, the village board still needs to sort out a number of issues before it votes on the appeal.
One is whether the portion of the deck that extends into the lake should be included in the lot coverage. Another issue is where the property line stands in relation to the lake.
Other trustees said they are concerned that granting a zoning variance in this case would set bad precedence.
"Part of the problem is not just Lake Briarwood," Trustee Michael Zadel said. "The lot coverage issues are villagewide. Making an exception of these things, historically we have really looked for a hardship, because what we decide when it comes to lot coverage affects everybody in the village that has a lot."