Villager caught in Catch 22 over deck constructed without permit

A Villager is caught in a Catch 22 over a deck that was constructed at his home without a permit.

David Davis, of the Village of Country Club Hills, said he wanted to construct the deck for his wife Patricia, who was seriously injured in a car accident. He said that as a result of the accident, she has had “steel implants” surgically placed in her body. She relies at various times on a cane, walker and wheelchair.

“Temperature and humidity changes impact her,” Davis on Monday evening told the Lady Lake Commission. In addition to the deck offering a place for the couple to relax, its construction was aimed at providing his wife an exit from their manufactured home in case of an emergency such as a fire.

A door opens onto the deck and if a ramp is added, would provide a handicapped-accessible escape route in the event of an emergency.

Davis, a retired carpenter, received the blessing of the Architectural Review Committee for the project at his home at 925 Orchid St. He was in the process of obtaining a permit from the Town of Lady Lake.

However, the materials for the deck were delivered to his home earlier than anticipated. So rather than leaving two cars and a golf cart parked in the street while the materials sat in storage at his home, Davis and a neighbor started building the deck.

“I realize I did something wrong,” Davis admitted. “I just want to do what’s right for my wife.”

He decided to appear before the commission, out of frustration with the town’s building department.

At various times, Davis attempted to describe the structure as a ramp, designed for his wife’s safety.

The Davis home on Orchid Street in the Village of Country Club Hills.

For the moment, the half-finished deck remains in limbo.

“I cannot just have this platform sitting in my front yard with no expectation of completing it,” Davis said.

Lady Lake’s Growth Management Director Thad Carroll told the commission the structure at Davis’ home is the subject of an open code violation case.

“It’s clearly a porch. It was constructed without a permit,” Carroll said. “We have never prohibited anyone from building a handicapped ramp.”

He added that town staff has attempted to provide options to Davis.

Carroll said he did not want to set a precedent and that in the opinion of town staff, the situation is not a hardship.

It was suggested that Davis could seek a variance for the project, something that comes with a fee of $850.

“There is no guarantee the variance would be approved,” Mayor Jim Richards warned.

Davis thought the $850 fee for the variance was pricey, but lamented he was caught in a “Catch 22.”

Town Attorney Derek Schroth told commissioners they could ultimately decide to refund the money to Davis.