- About UsWho We Are, Our History
- Contact UsAbout Your Project
- ProjectsSee Our Work
- Residential Projects
- School Projects
- LinksOur Affiliations
I’ve spoken about my grandfather, Bill Murphy, here before. Yesterday some students from Plymouth interviewed him as part of a project to record the memories of World War II veterans for the Marshall County Museum Historic Crossroads Center. Considering that my grandfather turned 100 years old this year, the pool of survivors has to be getting shallow.
ABC 57 picked up the interview and had a short clip on the news last night. You can see it here if you’re interested. In the quote on the website he says that he was drafted, but actually Grandpa worked at Kingsbury Ordinance Plant and since that was a necessary service, he was not eligible for the draft. He quit that job and volunteered for the service, turning down the waiver.
Picture Source: Kelsey Flynn
Just thinking about the new 2500′ WECS setback rule proposed by the Culver Plan Commission. How is the Building Commissioner going to measure that? The longest tape measure that I could find on Amazon.com was 400′. Looks like Culver will have to invest in a GPS, surveying equipment or a custom made tape. Russ may need some help stringing out 2500 linear feet of tape to make sure no one violates the rule! Unintended consequences… As we often find in my industry, what looks good on paper is sometimes tough to accomplish in the field.
Tired. Just tired. At the August 19th Plan Commission Meeting there was more discussion and a vote on revisions to the Zoning Ordinance regarding Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS). Type in “WECS” in the search box to the right to see past posts on this subject including the definition per the Culver Zoning Ordinance. It was obvious that the Plan Commission members were whipped on this issue, as was I. This is one that I really wish they had employed an outside consultant on. I feel that they got bogged down on details as they focused on specific WECS’s rather than making general rules that could be applied to all systems. So be it.
The main concession they made to the crowd was broadening the “protected” area, i.e., no vertical WECS’s within 2,500 feet of the L1, P1, R1, R2, C1 or C2 Zoning Districts. This extends the ban well outside the annexed area of town and effectively bans them from our current Extended Territorial Authority in several directions. I understand why they did this considering the vocal minority and their influence on the Town Council, but I’m afraid that this will kill our chances of achieving an expansion of our Extended Territorial Authority. I will beat this poor dead horse one more time here with another example:
Wherever this new restriction extends past our current Extended Territorial Authority it has no effect, i.e., if our Extended Territorial Authority is only 1,500 feet from one of the “protected” zoning districts, the additional 1,000 feet has no effect because it is in land governed by the County’s Zoning Ordinance, not Culver’s. My feeling is that anything like this… things that add restrictions that currently do not affect land within the County’s jurisdiction… will make it difficult if not impossible to extend our authority to include that area. Many outside the jurisdiction will fight any attempt to extend Culver’s jurisdiction just on principle. Why give them ammunition for the battle?
What many in the audience fail to understand about the above scenario is that there are other issues that will affect them. While we tried to mimic the County’s A-1 district when we created Culver’s, there are things there that are allowed by Special Use Permit. This means that they have to come before the BZA for approval. If those requests are under Culver’s Extended Territorial Authority, they come to Culver’s BZA. If they are under the County’s jurisdiction, they go to the County. The property owners within Culver’s jurisdiction may not even be notified, let alone have local representation.
I don’t know if I will speak to this further at the public hearing. I respect the Plan Commission and their attempts to accommodate all inspite of themselves. And we’re all tired… Just tired…
Picture source: LolSnaps.Org
At the August 12th Culver Town Council meeting there was follow-up discussion on properties in town that “should be cleaned up”. The goals are laudable, though I’m aware there are extenuating circumstances in some cases mentioned. In other cases, it’s a personal decision and I’m not sure how far we should go with that. Many subdivisions have covenants that stipulated what color your house can be, what color your curtains can be and how long a vehicle can sit in your driveway. Neighborhood covenants are one thing since they are usually developed before people move in and are modified with the consent of the neighborhood association. Aesthetic choices are personal and I do take some issue to having those applied after the fact. While there should be limits on a property being allowed to become dangerous, I think there is some danger of trampling personal property rights when aesthetics are dictated.
As with all things, the Town Council needs to be cognizant of unintended consequences. They had a recent dispute on mowing with a property owner, so part of their discussion revolved around setting a maximum height for grass. The owner in question stated that in lieu of a lawn, he had a naturalized habitat with native plants. The Town made the judgment that this area was overgrown weeds and forced them to be mowed. Does that mean they’re going to require lawns? There are at least two properties in town that have planting beds in lieu of lawn. Who will determine whether those plants are acceptable? Who will determine if there is too much planting area and not enough lawn? Who will determine whether the grass is decorative (like some at our office and at the Town Hall) and therefore exempt from the height ordinance? In late summer when most lawns go dormant, will the random stalks of Buckhorn result in mowing orders? Part of the most recently annexed property on the south side of town has been left fallow. It’s currently returning to somewhat of a native prairie habitat. Will that be illegal? I may have to rethink my willingness to have some of my property annexed…
The discussion also went into the condition of buildings with people wanting enforcement of standards that included missing shingles and boarded up windows… clearly aesthetic issues, not safety issues. I found that discussion amusing considering we were sitting in the Town Hall… a building that currently has missing shingles, a gutter hanging loose on the front and boarded up openings on the north and south. (Would the bird’s nest visible in the picture to the left be considered vermin? There was another complaint about building openings allowing vermin to enter…)
A quick drive past the Water Plant and you can see an overhead door that is off track and not closed completely. Drive up to the entrance of the Sewer Plant and you’ll see a deteriorating shingle roof on a shed roof adjacent to the tanks. Drive by the Town’s Sewer Lift Station on Madison Street and you can see a boarded up window on the back side. (Does paint make it okay? How will you define when a boarded up window is objectionable?)
None of these things particularly bother me. What bothers me is that my property would not meet the standards being discussed and it seems unreasonable that the Town would exempt themselves. Easterday Construction has buildings with openings that are boarded up. We have a pole building that has access under the doors. Might the Town want to get its own house in order before pointing fingers?
I’m sure when I bring some of these things up, I’ll get the standard, “That’s not what I meant! You’re twisting my words… You know what I mean!” Uh, huh… But when you try and define it in legally enforceable language, it takes on a new life. Unintended Consequences…
In the discussion regarding WECS’s at the Culver Plan Commission last night, Plan Commission member, Ron Cole, made a very salient comment. “Just think about satellite dishes. They used to be huge at 6 and 8 foot in diameter. Look at them now. Who knows what WECS’s will look like in the future…”
Look for another post regarding this meeting coming out this coming Friday.
Picture Source: Ron Cole’s Facebook page