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5-9-03 Zoning: Angry Avondale Homeowner Has

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


May 8, 2003




Green House Protest
Renée Hannans / AJC When the Avondale Estates Historic Preservation
Commission wouldn't approve plans for a rounded stoop on a house Stan Pike
owns on Kensington Road, he had it painted this way in protest.

Angry homeowner paints a colorful protest



  • DeKalb/Rockdale community page


Stan Pike believes that if you can’t beat City Hall, you can at least go down swinging -- and in his case, that means with a paint brush.


The Avondale Estates man lost his bid Monday night to get that city’s Historic Preservation Commission to approve his plan to add a rounded front stoop to a house he’s renovating on Kensington Road.


Pike said it was the second time in two months that he had wrangled with the board over changes to the house.


The commission didn’t like the proposed designs for the house, Pike said. No member of the commission could be reached for comment. City Manager Warren Hutmacher said commission meeting minutes don’t show why the commission rejected Pike’s request.


Pike stewed about it Tuesday, then went to work Wednesday morning.


He called two painters. By day’s end they had painted the front of the house lime green, then added large, purple polka dots.


It’s quite a sight in the quiet, small town known for its tasteful residential neighborhoods.


"It’s certainly making a point," said resident Karen Horace, as she lingered in her car Wednesday at the four-way stop in front of the house.


Horace added that the six-person Historic Preservation Commission, which must approve renovation plans submitted to City Hall, "does have a reputation for being a little difficult sometimes." She recalled another neighbor who got a letter from the commission scolding him for tacky yard decorations.


Pike seems to enjoy being a little difficult himself. With a large smile, he told gawkers at the lime-green house that he’s amended his list of chores to next include scattering old toilets, filled with geraniums, around the front yard.


The uproar left Hutmacher, just three months on the job, scrambling to find out if he can make Pike repaint the house its original white color.


So far no luck. The city attorney was out of town Wednesday and Hutmacher’s staff was continuing to comb through the law books.


Horace, who lives nearby, said she would vote for the more dignified white. "I support the man’s protest, but please, that’s gotta go," she said.


Pike isn’t budging. He actually lives in another house in Avondale and bought this one for $80,000 to renovate and resell.


"I’m fighting them and I’m not through," he said. "I might leave it this way forever. I might just live in it."



AVOC COMMENT:    Many frustrated citizens can sympathize with this owner.   Some bureaucracy just goes overboard.   Many zoning code and architectural control measures can border on the ridiculous.   


Builders and developers have the wherewithal to deal with it.  The average citizen does not have the knowledge and experience to “fight City Hall”.  It is easier for one-time homeowners to just go along to get approved.


I have said in the past that the last bastion of unfettered autocratic power in the United States is the small town councils and boards.   Most of their actions do not warrant the expense to fight them even though many measures may be unconstitutional. 


Maybe there needs to be more “green houses” confronting the bureaucracy that is taking over our lives!


Wendell Dawson