Dear friends,

April 1st, we had the council meeting to deal with the 80 Merton derogation request. As you recall, at the March council meeting, all the councilors, other than Councilor Shaffer who was absent, voted to grant the request and I vetoed it. I then sent a letter to all residents asking you to let the councilors know your opinion. The response was overwhelming. You wrote numerous letters and e-mails. You called the councilors and we had the greatest turnout at a council meeting that I can recall.

The vote on April 1st was 5 councilors against the derogation request, with only Councilor Elfassy voting in favor. What changed the councilors’ minds? Between the March and April meetings, we got a legal opinion which explained the criteria for granting a minor derogation. They are:

1. It must be minor.
2. It must not harm the neighbors
3. Not granting it must cause a serious prejudice to the applicant.

All three criteria must be met. The entire council agreed that the applicant had failed to show that he would suffer a serious prejudice. Except for Councilor Elfassy, all said that they would follow the law.
All councilors stated that your interventions did not influence their votes and the decision was simply based on the law.

One thing is certain: You sent a loud and clear message to us. You want to preserve the look of our town and you do not want any precedents set by granting derogations to aspects of our by-law where we have never granted them before. These include the percentage of flat roof, the height of single-family homes, and the FSI (a measure of the volume of the house). Personally, I fully agree with this message.

I thank all of you who took the time to get involved in this very important issue.


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead