Garage build pits city against homeowner

A building is pinning a homeowner against the city of Lewisville

In Antonio Contreras' backyard there are several projects in progress. It's easy to tell by the amount of tools, lumber and bricks neatly packed in the yard.

"As you can tell I am a tools person," he laughed. "I was trying to make my dream house."

Contreras says his dream is to have a separate garage and storage for things like tools and his many soccer trophies. 

Last year in April he filed for a permit to construct the garage with the city of Lewisville.

"The permit he was issued was for a 12 foot structure," said James Kunke with the city of Lewisville.

But the garage structure behind the Contreras home is clearly not 12 feet, it is much higher. Contreras says the permit documents which he produced to WFAA read "max building height can exceed 12 feet."

"Instead of saying "cannot be" it said "can be." I guess he chose to take that at face value," said Kunke.

It is a typo the city admits to making in permit documents. Contreras also says the description for the work in those documents says, "Build two story garage with storage." The assistant city manager said that the permit could have been labeled better. The city says the description was carried over from the time Contreras first put in the application for a permit.

"It makes a whole world of difference," said Contreras.

The city argues this is about compliance and safety. Kunke says Contreras was well aware of the height restrictions as early as the first time he submitted plans for the permit in April of 2016. Kunke says code provisions were also included with the the permit documents which detail the 12 foot height maximum. Contreras denies getting those documents.

On Sept 30 of last year an inspector came through and saw that the building was not up to code. At that time the inspector gave Contreras a red tag that essentially meant stop working.

"He made a mistake in after having been told to stop...choosing to continue," said Kunke.

The city has pictures that show some work had been done after being told to stop. Contreras said he was in a hurry to store expensive tools and said that was one reason for continuing to build on the structure.

"I did believe in my heart the city would be able to work it out with me," said Contreras.

Work has stopped now which Contreras admits makes him depressed. In the meantime Lewisville has issued 34 citations for failure to comply on that garage. In total the fines for all those citations exceed $5,000.

"There was a mistake made early on on our part. There was a mistake made on his part subsequent...I would say the second one is larger," said Kunke.

Both sides had met recently to find a resolution. The city offered to cancel the citations if he brought the garage down to 12 feet. Contreras did not accept those terms and is hopeful the city will make an exception for his structure.

"You pay for our error. To me...that's how I take it," said Contreras.

A year after the permit was issued the garage still stands in limbo. The city says this is ultimately about compliance and the safety of its residents. Contreras says this is about building a dream house with a garage with enough storage space.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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