Unusual home stirring up controversy in Seattle neighborhood

SEATTLE -- A tall house being built on a tiny lot is stirring controversy in one Seattle neighborhood.

The contractor claims the house will be gorgeous when it's finished, but neighbors want it gone.

The unusual home, which has not yet been built, will be tucked into a small lot in the Roosevelt neighborhood. It will only be about 30-feet wide and 18-feet deep, but it will be three stories tall.

That means it will be taller than surrounding buildings, and neighbors say they hate it.

"It's a little postage stamp size lot," said neighbor David Kerr. "It's going to loom over every house in the neighborhood."

Angry neighbors have posted signs and voiced their displeasure to the city, the contractor and the real estate broker handling the house.

"It's just out of keeping with the scope and size of the neighborhood," Kerr said.

The trouble started last fall when Classic City Homes purchased the lot. Neighbors like Deb Sorenson worried the company's modern homes could devalue their street's older, more traditional houses.

She also thought building something so tall on such a small lot violated a city moratorium passed in September on small-lot developments.

"But they sort of swooped in and got their application in the day the moratorium went into effect," Sorenson said.

In response to the criticism, contractor and lot owner Byron Wetherhold emailed a statement about the home.

"Different architectural styles and heights is healthy for a neighborhood and creates an interesting streetscape," he said.

He also said the home will be attractive and a "benefit to the community."

Sorenson said if it comes to it, she will welcome the people who end up buying the home.

"There's not going to be any bad feelings," she said. "Once somebody moves in here, they're our neighbor."

In the meantime, she and others in the neighborhood vow to keep fighting.

"Communities need to be vigilant about what's happening in their neighborhood," Kerr said.

Smart Growth Seattle, a non-profit that works with small-lot contractors, is also defending the home. They say it will provide a single family the chance to live in a traditional Seattle neighborhood.