COLUMBIA — Construction of the new Beta Theta Pi house will continue as planned despite being 7 feet, 4 inches taller than city ordinances allow, the Board of Adjustment decided Tuesday evening.
Janet Hammen, president of the East Campus Neighborhood Association, reached an agreement with the Zeta Phi Corp. to support granting the variance moments before the meeting began. The association complained to the city about the house's height in November.
The house, built to be 42 feet, 4 inches tall, has violated a height limit of 35 feet imposed by the city’s ordinances. The City Council voted to temporarily halt the construction of the house three weeks ago.
Neither the construction designer, Treanor Architects, P.A., nor the plan reviewer, John Simon of the Community Development, discovered the height violation until the neighborhood association made a complaint to Barbara Hoppe, the Sixth Ward Councilwoman, when they found that the fraternity house at 520 S. College Ave. seemed taller than it should be.
“It’s a shared responsibility,” Tim Teddy, the community development director, said.
The city has created a zoning checklist to prevent this from happening again.
The Zeta Phi Corp. submitted its variance application to the Board of Adjustment on Nov. 17. Meanwhile, the construction continued because recent rain and snow would damage building material of the roofless building and of an unwillingness to fall behind schedule.
The company has already spent around $5 million on raw material and construction at the site. If it was forced to comply with the height restrictions, the builder would need to scrap all the construction above the first floor and start over to provide the same capacity for at least 69 incoming students for the fall 2012 semester.
The application also says the fraternity house is lower in elevation than many other buildings within a radius of two blocks and its shadow will fall within its property.
The new house of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity has been built to hold a 100-seat auditorium inside its three-story building according to previous Missourian reporting.
Another MU fraternity house, Rho Alpha of Chi Omega Fraternity, Inc., also requested for a height variance at Tuesday's meeting, but that will be discussed later. The company said the 35 feet standard in the city's ordinances limits its construction of a walk-out basement for adequate parking space at 406 Burnam Ave.