Kittric “Kit” Guest, his wife and two daughters live in a small, one-story house just one block north of Old State Street in Downtown Eagle.
Their mid-1950s home offers just 720 square feet of living space — so it’s no surprise they were looking to expand.
To some, a recent new addition to the home is the construction version of the tail wagging the dog. Sixteen feet wide, three stories high and running up almost to the property’s front edge, it looms large along the street.
The estimated value of the 1,248-square-foot improvement: $138,282, according to the residential addition permit.
But that permit may not apply to Guest’s full plans, Eagle’s top zoning official told the Statesman.
Guest, a civil engineer who is building the addition himself, said he plans to eventually tear down the original house. That’s a clear indication that his intention all along was to build a new home, said Bill Vaughan, Eagle’s zoning administrator.
“It’s a purposeful circumvention of the conditional-use permit process,” Vaughan said. “He has a right to do an addition. Those rights change when he said that he never intended this to be an addition.”
A permit for a new home may have required more city review, and possibly additional conditions. The city is now looking into the matter, Vaughan said.
Guest said he feels he was straightforward with the city about his plans. He came up with the idea for building a skinny rowhouse-style addition after looking at Eagle’s comprehensive plan. It envisions townhomes with limited setbacks along that street, he said.
“If we get a few more in, it will get a lot nicer,” he said of the building, which stands out even on a street with tall trees. He hopes to finish the interior this summer. “With some future building, it will fit right in.”
And he is nonplussed by other complaints the home has garnered — some of which have made their way to the city. Vaughan said he’s heard from a few people who don’t like the skinny building’s aesthetics, including its unusual color scheme (off-white and gray-green, with fireweed red trim) and tiny windows. It matches the garage that Guest built behind the house.
“I’ve been getting a lot of support around the area but I’m sure some people don’t like it. It’s not for everybody,” Guest said.
Jesse Fuentes, an electrician who rents a house on Idaho Street, said he’s not losing any sleep over the tall, skinny addition.
“The colors he chose aren’t exactly the best colors,” said Fuentes, who thinks the addition also might have looked better on the back side of the house. “You’ve just got to do something a little more tasteful, in my opinion. Something that’s not going to be an eyesore.”
Mark Butler, a former Eagle city councilman, has been a vocal critic of Guest’s home improvement project. He sold off a redevelopment property next door because he was so unhappy with it.
“Skinny and tall is not the problem. The downtown area encourages rowhousing,” Butler said.
He said the overall aesthetics of the building, which he describes as “three shoeboxes sitting on top of one another,” could have been vastly improved by an architectural review committee. Also, he said, the city might have required new house construction to include sidewalks, curbs, gutters, lights and/or trees.
Guest at the moment is more focused on what the new building means for his daughters. Ages 6 and 7, they are excited to have more space.
“They’re looking forward to having their own rooms,” he said.