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Fairfax City Council Meet{twice the size of other homes-plan's for green home appealed}

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Event Type:
call 453-1584.
Location Details:
end of meeting a guess
The Fairfax Town Council will hear an appeal of plans to build at 183 Frustuck Ave. during a 7:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday at the Fairfax Women's Club at 46 Park Road. For more information,

Fairfax builder clashes with council, would-be neighbors over green home
Rob Rogers
IJ Article Launched: 10/15/2007 12:41:27 AM PDT

Shane Deal says the home he wants to build on Frustuck Avenue in Fairfax will be eco-friendly. The Town Council and neighbors argue the design obstructs views. They accuse Deal of exaggerating the home's 'green' benefits. (IJ photo/Jeff Vendsel)
AS FAR as builder Shane Deal is concerned, the house he's proposing to build on Fairfax's Frustuck Avenue is an opportunity to make his hometown a little greener.

"It will meet the platinum standards for green building, with solar water heating, photovoltaic cells on the roof, fly ash concrete, low-VOC nontoxic paint and formaldehyde-free insulation," Deal said. "It's designed to blend harmoniously into the hillside. And since the amount of remodeling we do is the most un-green part of the industry, it's designed to be maintenance-free, and to stand the test of time."

Deal's would-be neighbors disagree.

They say the 3,794-square-foot house and garage he originally proposed would be twice the size of other homes in the neighborhood,
Building Green
Should local government encourage "green" residential building?
blocking views of Mount Tamalpais. And they've accused the builder of "greenwashing" - exaggerating the environmental benefits of the home to camouflage its problems.

"If you don't build the house, you haven't hurt the environment," said Niccolo Caldararo, a former Town Council member who lives two houses down from the vacant lot where Deal proposes to build. "He may be using recycled materials, but just the fact that he's building the house means he's still using energy. And the house will
require twice as much energy to heat it than any house in the area. How can you call it green?"

Caldararo has appealed the Planning Commission's approval of Deal's design, and the Town Council will weigh in on Wednesday.

Opponents of the project say Deal is one of many speculators building large houses in small neighborhoods to sell them for a profit.

"The man is a spec builder," Caldararo said. "He's going to sell it once he can maximize the capital gains on it, after living in it for two years or so. He's exploiting the situation, taking value away from the rest of the homeowners. I see that as depreciating the environment."

But Deal, a member of the Fairfax Design Review Board, says he and his wife plan to live in the new home. He adds that he has never sold a home in the United States and insists he's doing everything he can to help his hometown.

"I buy materials from Fairfax. I use as many consultants from Fairfax as I can," said Deal, who lives on Fairfax's Bell Avenue. "I like to support my community and make use of people within the community."

The Planning Commission approved Deal's project by a 3-2 vote July 19. Chairwoman Pam Meigs, who voted against the project, said she remained concerned about its size.

"I voted 'no' on the project because I felt the scale, the size and the scope of the project were out of character for the neighborhood," Meigs said. "The house was looming over the neighbors."

Members of Sustainable Fairfax, a local environmental group, have expressed similar concerns, arguing that even the "greenest" house could pose problems for the environment.

"We appreciate the investment and incentive to follow the tenets of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) such as renewable energy, recycled and locally sourced green building materials," said Executive Director Pam Hartwell-Herrero. "However, homes with large square footage are not in keeping with the character of Fairfax."

The builder disputes the idea that his proposed home is too big for the neighborhood.

"Most new homes to be built are around the same square footage as ours," Deal said. "That's what a modern family home is these days."

Deal said he has done his best to comply with neighborhood requests, proposing a turnout for fire engines on the property and working with an arborist to protect as many of its venerable oak trees as possible. He has also agreed to reduce the size of his home to 2,830 square feet.

He said he was stunned when the Town Council first reviewed the project on Sept. 19 and none of the council members brought copies of his plans to the meeting.

"The members had made up their minds before I had a chance to address them," Deal said. "They wanted to turn me down but were having trouble coming up with a legal reason. The town is going to end up wasting money in a courtroom."

Councilman David Weinsoff disputed that assertion. "It's not unusual not to have the full scope of material in front of us," Weinsoff said. "I don't think Mr. Deal and his team were fully aware of the comprehensiveness of the community's concerns. We provided him with the opportunity to make revisions or put together a more comprehensive statement to bring back to us."

Deal said he believes he'll be able to make his case on Wednesday.

"For all the talk in Fairfax of building green, there's not a huge amount of action behind people's words," Deal said. "We're trying to publicize that green is the way to go. You'd think that would be the ultimate message people in town would like to see, that at the end of the day we want to build more sustainably."



Read more Fairfax stories at the IJ's Fairfax page.

Contact Rob Rogers via e-mail at rrogers [at]

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Added to the calendar on Wed, Oct 17, 2007 10:57AM
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