Victims of the south side disaster are still trying to put their lives back together. It has been nearly four months since that deadly explosion, and families have started to rebuild in the Richmond Hill neighborhood, but the rebuilding process is not going as smoothly as many had hoped.
The images of the explosion, and the impact they had on the Richmond Hill community is something Doris Jarnigan is still dealing with.
“It was a loss, but I am thankful that no more died from the incident and I am very sorry about that loss,” said Jarnigan.
Their house on Andrusia Lane was one of many damaged beyond repair, but it was important for her and her husband to rebuild.
“It is a great place to be,” said Jarnigan. “I just like everything about it. I am building the same home, only expanding it two feet.”
This week Doris got a call she did not see coming.
“It was a total shock,” said Jarnigan.
The home that was originally built in 2000 was too large too, two feet too large. The house Doris and her husband were in the process of building was two feet larger, so this project has been brought to a screeching halt over four feet.
“I think it is extremely silly especially when you consider what we have gone through, how many vacant lots there are out here where people will not be returning,” said Jarnigan. “Here we are, we want to return, we want to rebuild our home, and we can not even rebuild our home.”
All of the homes in the Richmond Hill neighborhood must have 65 percent variance, meaning, 65 percent of the lot must be open space. The houses can not take up more than 35 percent of the lot. The extra four feet pushed the house over the limit, reducing the variance to 61 percent. Jarnigan said she does not have a problem with the rule, she is upset because she said she is just now hearing about it.
“Something is wrong here, this is not fair, this is not right,” said Jarnigan. “What is it going to take to get this corrected? Pushing paper across a desk is not the answer.”
Jarnigan said she just wants to put her house back together, move in and move on.
“The explosion made me sad, this makes me angry,” said Jarnigan.
The Department of Code Enforcement said the variance is in place to protect property values. In a statement the Department said:
“Currently, their plans show that this zoning commitment will not be met which is why DCE is working with the contractor and other city agencies to find quick and lawful resolution.”
The Jarnigans must now get permission from the Department of Metropolitan Development to build their house the way they want to. The process can’t move forward until that happens.