Lawrence's Board of Zoning Appeals acted improperly in allowing an East Lawrence triplex to be renovated, a Douglas County District Court judge said in a decision filed Monday.
The triplex is owned by city commission candidate Paul Horvath.
"The decision of the Board is not supported by substantial evidence and is thus unreasonable," wrote District Judge James W. Paddock in the memorandum decision.
At issue was whether the triplex at 1101 Pa. could maintain its legal, non-conforming status after being vacant or used as a storage building for several years.
The triplex is on land zoned for single-family residences, but the city had granted a non-conforming use variance to the property at the time of a downzoning in East Lawrence in the early 1980s.
The city's zoning ordinance holds that legal, non-conforming status for property is abandoned when that use is discontinued for six months.
The BZA held that the property retained its non-conforming use status, although it had been vacant and not used as a residence for several years.
Paddock agreed with briefs filed by attorney Don Strole, who represented East Lawrence resident Richard Kershenbaum, that there was insufficient evidence that the building had not been abandoned.
"The evidence is uncontroverted that the property was not used as a dwelling from 1986 to 1988," Paddock wrote. "It is uncontroverted that the non-conforming use voluntarily was discontinued for six months."
He ruled that the city building permit issued to Horvath for the property was invalid.