We have to conform to a rigorous set of design guidelines due to our historic home and its location. Since we’re trying to add a feature that currently does not exist (the retaining wall), we’ll have to go before our city’s board of historic preservation in a town-hall style meeting to get approval. We submitted our plan and met with a helpful member of the historic preservation committee, then tweaked our design a little bit.
After our design seemed acceptable in terms of historic preservation, we met with a traffic engineer (also from the city) to make sure our sight triangles were clear and our curb cut wouldn’t impede traffic flow or safety (safety is so BORING!). The traffic engineer was concerned about our gate blocking the sidewalk, which I thought was ludicrous because people park on our sidewalk whenever there is an event downtown and they never get parking tickets. But I held my tongue. I sound ungrateful, so I must point out that this person was also very helpful and gave us some good advice.
So after the safety meeting, we had to move our gate and fence back to accommodate the sight triangles, which meant changing the design yet again and resubmitting it to the historic preservation committee. Since we are giving up four more feet of lawn space (our yard is only 30 feet wide), the sunken driveway was out. We could have kept it, but I didn’t like how far it jutted into the yard at this point. The proportion was all wrong. On the plus side, the non-sunken parking space is more affordable, as less excavation is needed.
This entire process has taken about two months, and we’re still not finished. We have been given a meeting date of September 8th, which means that one week from today we will be standing before the board of historic preservation. This panel of architects and historic preservation experts will decide if our design is complimentary to the surrounding neighborhood, and will ultimately decide the fate of our backyard. Fingers crossed!