Supes deny Forest Knolls appeal

David Briggs
Marin County supervisors last week denied an appeal filed by neighbors of a building permit in Forest Knolls; Steve Kinsey was reluctant to second-guess his staff’s recommendation to uphold the Planning Commission’s ruling, which favored a permit for a single-family home on a steep hillside. Fifteen neighbors had signed a petition in opposition to the existing permit.

The Board of Supervisors rejected an appeal to alter construction plans for a new home at 195 Resaca in Forest Knolls that neighbors said would block road access and build a leach-field on improper soil that could leak into a drainage ditch. The two-level, 1,902-square-feet residence was designed by Richard Rushton to fit against a steep hillside—an average slope of 37.8 percent. It would reach a maximum height of 27 feet and be set at the back of the lot, unusual for the neighborhood. In seeking to overturn a 7-0 approval by the Planning Commission, neighbor Brady Wedman spearheaded the appeal before the supervisors, arguing that recent percolation tests at the site were flawed based on E.P.A. data that would suggest in theory the land’s silty-clay soil would not meet Marin’s standards. Planners maintained that the septic system was designed by a qualified engineer and the Environmental Health Services staff had tested it before approval. One E.H.S. staffer wrote that of six tests in 1985, only one failed, and recent tests at shallower depths had passed for this unique septic system. Supervisor Steve Kinsey made the only comments after the presentations, suggesting the board not “second guess a professional engineer and our own staff in their decision and environmental health codes. I’m not comfortable going beyond that,” he said. He also told Mr. Wedman that the area’s roads had long been too small for multiple cars, and that some consideration from neighbors would not be unusual. The supervisors unanimously shot down the appeal. Though unsurprised, Mr. Wedman said, “The fact that the board merely deferred to staff’s opinion makes me wonder why these hearings are held.”