Denial of relative’s variance request directed at him, Robinson contends

By MIKE ANTHONY

Crestwood Mayor Roy Robinson recently criticized two members of the Board of Adjustments for voting against a variance request made by his niece, contending he was the target of their opposition.

But the two members of the Board of Ad-justment — Chairman Ted Hawkins and Gary Vincent, a former Ward 2 alderman — told the Call they were unaware that the person requesting the variance was related to Robinson.

Furthermore, they said even if they had known the person requesting the variance was Robinson’s niece, it would not have changed their votes.

Robinson’s niece, Jessica Langenbach, had requested a variance to allow for the construction of a fence within the required front yard at 1300 Liggett Drive. The city code does not permit a fence be placed in a required front yard. Langenbach sought the variance to allow for the construction of a fence that would extend into the front-yard setback along Coffey Court.

The reason for the request is the fence would provide security for the property, some privacy and a safe area for a dog, according to information provided to the Call by the city in response to a request under the provisions of the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, also called the Sunshine Law.

On Dec. 8, the Board of Adjustment voted 3-2 to deny the variance request with Hawkins and Vincent opposed.

Four votes were needed to approve the request.

At the Dec. 13 Board of Aldermen meeting, Robinson raised the issue, stating his niece had sought a variance and it was denied.

“They go before the Board of Adjustments and everybody on the board except for two people who do not care for me too well — they didn’t allow her a variance … that should have been approved,” Robinson said, based on discussions with the Department of Public Works. “They saw no reason why it shouldn’t. All other variances have been approved before. But as I talked to (City Administrator) Mr. (Don) Greer about this, too, I said: You know, the thing about this job is we sit in a place where we take criticism and we do all that. I can handle that. But when you start using your — if you can’t get back at the mayor any other way but to go after their families when they live in the city and they’re a resident and they have a right to appear before these boards and pay their 200 bucks to be able to get that opportunity.

“Now, the only — because this decision was made, they have to take them to court in the county, which they’re going to do. It means they have to sue the city. I’m the mayor and they’ve got to sue the city to be able to get justice in this city,” he continued, adding he believed aldermen should be aware of the situation.

“People on these committees should realize that you don’t go after people’s families and one thing I would never do … I would never be nasty or mean-spirited to anybody’s family whether I was in agreement with them or not. So I just thought you all ought to know that …,” Robinson said.

Contacted by the Call, Hawkins said he didn’t know that Langenbach was related to Robinson.

“How are we supposed to know that?” he asked. “No one ever told me that.”

Of the variance request, Hawkins said, “It was against the code and there was just no obvious rationale for why it should be done … The only reason things come to the Board of Adjustment is because people want to do something which is in violation of the code and they need to get a variance to do something that isn’t in the code. Some-times there’s a good reason for doing it, but if there’s not a good reason for doing it, the code’s there for a reason.”

Vincent also told the Call he didn’t know Langenbach was Robinson’s niece.

“I had no idea the person was related to the mayor. It wasn’t evident on the face of the application. Nobody mentioned it and I spoke to no one. Had I known, I would have voted the exact same way I did,” he said.

He also said, “I didn’t really see anything that would justify a variance in this case.”