Culver Zoning 7/19 Update – Part 3

This is a continuation of my thoughts on the 7/19/22 Plan Commission Meeting. You can find the previous posts here and here. This one is more of a whiny rant, so if you’re not up to hearing me complain, it would be best to skip this post!

412 Lake Shore Drive

I own the property at 412 Lake Shore Drive. It is a postage stamp size parcel with a 100 year old kit home on it. The lot would be unbuildable by current standards. According to the Accessor, the lot is 38′ x 120′. There is an alley down one side which makes it a corner lot. 38′ minus 10′ Side Yard Setback, minus 25′ ROW Setback leaves 3′ buildable without some extreme variances. The home also sits well into the 25′ front setback.

Do you know how our lives are divided into pre-pandemic and post-pandemic now? Sometime pre-pandemic (2020), the adjacent property owner at 404 Lake Shore Drive built a fence on the property line. Before I even noticed it, then Plan Commission member, Marty Oosterbaan, pointed out that it was not built per standards. Chapter 6, Section 070, B.1. – Within the limits of a required front yard setback area, no fence shall exceed 5 feet in height and shall have a minimum of 50% of its surface open to permit visibility. The fence as constructed extends into the front yard setback area, thus in that area it is too high and does not provide 50% visibility. The Plan Commission directed Chuck DeWitt, then Building Inspector, to pursue a remedy.

Multiple things happened: 1) Covid and the associated lack of public meetings for the Plan Commission; 2) Mr. DeWitt left his position as Marshall County Building Inspector and took a job as Building Commissioner for Culver; 3) The property changed ownership; 4) Ginny Munroe replaced Jonathan Leist at Culver Town Manager; 5) Marty Oosterbaan stepped down from the Plan Commission (and there were other member changes as well.) Throughout this, I continued to bring this up to the Plan Commission every month or so. At one point, I even drafted a letter for their use citing the violations. When the property was on the market, the Plan Commission directed Mr. DeWitt to let the realtor know about the violation in hopes that it would get corrected as part of a sale. While there was an open building permit on the property, the Plan Commission requested that the Marshall County Building Department not provide a Certificate of Occupancy until the violation was corrected.

At the meeting on the 19th, a status report on this issue was requested by the Plan Commission President. Mr. DeWitt reported that he had inquired about this with the Town’s Attorney handling Plan Commission matters and was told there was no grounds for enforcing this issue. This was a shock to me as well as some of the commissioners!

And here’s the Rant… I’m not the guy that comes in and raises a stink at meetings. I have a lot of respect for volunteers and what they do for the community. I don’t call them out or try and embarrass them in public meetings. But this is part of a string of promises from the Town, that I have waited patiently on, that have not borne results. I have trusted in the process and been disappointed again and again. While I don’t volunteer with the expectation of returns, it’s frustrating to lose property value and business opportunities to others who have contributed little or nothing to the community. I’ve always been optimistic, but pragmatic. My optimism is waning lately… and my pragmatism is transitioning to cynicism…

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Culver Zoning 7/19 Update – Part 2

If a home constructed last year was designed to meet this requirement, they should have some sense of comfort that their neighbor's future development will follow the same rules. Consistency is important.

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Culver Zoning 7/19 Update – Part 1

I was pleased to hear one of the plan commission members bring up affordable housing and how zoning restrictions often stymie creative solutions. I hope he carries this forward into the ongoing Comprehensive Plan meetings.

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