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Court Decision Raises the Roof in Glendora

December 03, 1989|SIOK-HIAN TAY KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GLENDORA — Darwin and Judith Paulson are completing construction on their house after a superior court overturned the city's order that they lop two feet off their roof.

"I'm ecstatic," Darwin Paulson said. "This proves you can fight City Hall."

But his travails are not over. He is still being investigated by the District Attorney's office on allegations of bribery and conspiracy in obtaining building permits for his home, according to Deputy District Atty. Thomas Gray.

The Paulsons' dream home was to be a 7,000-square-foot, two-story colonial-style house.

They went to court in September seeking an order that would force the city to honor a variance they were granted to exceed the 25-foot height limit in 1984. The permit expired in 1985, but the building department gave the couple the go-ahead to begin construction in 1987.

A year later, after residents' complaints that the house was looming over the rest of the neighborhood, the city ordered the Paulsons to stop work, advising them to reduce the height or apply for a new variance. The city turned down their two subsequent applications.

In a Nov. 16 ruling, Pomona Superior Court Judge Thomas Nuss found "an abuse of discretion on behalf of the (City) Council." He ordered the city to nullify the stop work order and grant the Paulsons a height variance.

Nuss described the cost of tearing off or redesigning the roof as "a severe impact." Darwin Paulson had estimated the modification would have cost at least $60,000.

The judge also instructed the city to issue the Paulsons an occupancy permit once construction is completed, and to reimburse the couple for attorneys' fees and costs.

"We were surprised," City Manager Art Cook said of the decision. "We thought it definitely was justified action on the city's part." He said the City Council will probably discuss whether to appeal at its Dec. 12 meeting.

On the continuing investigation, Police Chief Oliver Posey said the department began a probe of Paulson this summer after a neighbor alleged favoritism in the granting of Paulson's permits. The department turned the case over to the District Attorney's office without making any arrests or charges, Posey said.

Paulson, a 21-year veteran of the Glendora Police Department, has been on disability since June 28, citing stress resulting from the investigation. Paulson has denied any wrongdoing and said he is more concerned about lingering tensions the battle with the city has left behind. "Nothing now is going to completely heal the relationship with neighbors and my co-workers," he said.

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