LETTER TO THE EDITOR | 'Monster houses' story didn't warrant corrections

I was surprised, disappointed and puzzled by the Corrections that appeared on Page 4 of your Oct. 2 edition and that purports to “correct” aspects of Monica Wooton’s story on “monster houses” that appeared in your Sept. 18 edition.

Unlike Ms. Wooton, the author of these corrections seems to speak ex cathedra, offering neither documentary proof nor testimony from any sources and leaves the reader to speculate about what exactly is going on. 

Particularly striking is the fact that the Corrections do not point out or change anything Ms. Wooton wrote. Indeed, your Corrections comprise a new story by an unidentified author and, at best, only supplement what Ms. Wooton wrote. I suggest you owe Ms. Wooton an apology.

Frankly, as one who has had a prime seat to watch the construction, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that you’ve been rolled. You should promptly correct the Corrections. Except in the tiniest of respects, they have no basis in fact.

Your first correction (“The caption for the second photo incorrectly states that the lot has been a construction site for five years.”) is complete contrary to fact. A demolition permit was issued by the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) on Feb. 27, 2008; a construction permit was issued on the following day; and the demolition/construction process began soon thereafter, more than 5 1/2 years ago. There were periods when construction was interrupted, but the site has been fenced for 5 1/2 years and in a state of unsightly disrepair for most of that time. The photo’s caption was perhaps understated, but it was accurate and did not warrant a correction.

Perhaps the most egregious correction relates to the giving of notice to the neighbors of the forthcoming construction (“The general contractor contacted neighbors about plans for the modern-style home and answered any concerns before construction began.”). A representative of the general contractor (DLH Inc.) did come to my door to introduce himself, to tell me construction was about to resume and to assure me that he would try to minimize the disturbance construction would inevitably cause. He provided a one-page handout; that document does not do what the Correction suggest was accomplished, and I have no recollection of his offering anything more about the construction or anything at all about a “modern-style home.”

I have contacted three of my closest neighbors, and their recollections are the same in all materials respects. One of them, directly contrary to your Correction, tells of seeking more information about the plans for the house and meeting significant resistance. I was aware of that as it was happening and have no reason to doubt my neighbor’s reports — then or now. Your all-too-ready acceptance of the contrary seems, most charitably, irresponsible and impossibly gullible.

The Corrections make a few statements of fact about sales of the property. Again, these statements do not “correct” anything Ms. Wooton wrote; she never mentioned sales dates. Further, one of your dates is wrong: A “sales history” shows that Chaffey Homes bought the property on June 15, 2007, not 2008, as the Corrections state. That record does state that the present owners bought the property in 2010. You recite that latter as a correction, even though Ms. Wooton never wrote otherwise.

You are right that the square footage of the house Chaffey began to build would have been somewhat greater than the present construction; but, again, this statement does not “correct” anything Ms. Wooton wrote. Chaffey was quite public with what it proposed to build on the site. Many neighbors, far from delighted by the Chaffey proposal, took some solace from the plan to put much of the additional square footage in an out-of-sight basement and some more from the proposed pitched-roof, Craftsman-style design that would be a not-bad fit with the surrounding homes.

Lastly, you seem to be correct that “no variances were requested, and the home is being built according to code.” But isn’t that precisely the point of Ms. Wooton’s “monster houses” article? The 1958 code (i.e., when Ike was president!) clearly needs revision if successive owners can do all of this , for all this time, and the DPD can only rubber-stamp applications and applaud. Your Correction does not justify what has happened; it is, instead, proof-positive that the code, as presently written, is patently inadequate.

William A. Gould

Queen Anne


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