NEWARK -- City guidelines for second-story home additions -- which call for reviewing proposals based on scale, privacy impacts and street compatibility -- will remain in place, the Planning Commission decided this week

But moments after commissioners voted to preserve those rules, they upheld an appeal filed by Ron Colvard, a Newark homeowner whose plans for a second story and other additions had been rejected by city staff.

The seemingly contradictory moves show that, though the guidelines remain the same, how they are interpreted can change over time.

Mixed messages? It's more of a sign of the times, said Terrence Grindall, Newark's community development director.

When the guidelines were adopted in 2007, Newark's leaders were interested in preserving one-story neighborhoods. That view fueled the rejection of some homeowners' expansion plans, including Colvard's.

"There is room for interpretation in the guidelines, and the interpretation seems to have changed," Grindall said. "That might be because we're just living in different times or it might be because we have different members (on the Planning Commission and City Council)."

The guidelines, called the Single-Family Residential Design Review, were established when so-called "monster homes" were being built in Fremont and clashing with the aesthetics of neighborhoods in that city.


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Even after Newark's rules were formed, Grindall said they remained relatively relaxed, which has allowed the city to encourage investment in the community, as well as approve two-story additions that are compatible with other homes in their neighborhoods.

"Single-story neighborhoods don't have to be treated like a museum," Grindall said. "We definitely want attractive two-story additions."

That is music to the ears of homeowners like Colvard, who hopes to expand his home on Hafner Street, near the intersection of Thornton Avenue and Newark Boulevard.

"I hope you guys can be open-minded enough to agree," Colvard said at the Planning Commission meeting. "I'm just trying to improve my neighborhood."

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.