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Board denies variance for shed

By Staff | Sep 2, 2012

Construction of a shed at 120 Half Moon Road in Wells will remain on hold.

Members of the Board of Appeals and Adjustments voted 3-1 to deny a request for a variance in the R2 residential area to allow construction of the 2,000-plus square-foot building.

The decision Monday night came after some residents got a chance to have their say.

That included Marilyn Dulas, owner of the property where the structure is being built.

“I am offended of how I have to defend myself for something I did not know was wrong,” she says. “We have never had anything to hide. I did everything I was suppose to do. It is totally unfair.”

Building inspector Bryan Stensland admitted he issued the permit after being given general information.

He says the Dulases did not have a building plan, but he was led to believe the walls would be 8 feet in height.

“If they had said it was going to be 14 feet tall, that would have been a red flag for me,” he adds.

Residents questioned the process used to approve the permit.

“Neighbors have been concerned. With so many violations, we don’t know how the permit could have been signed,” says one resident. “It appears he (Stensland) failed in his job by not looking at the zoning ordinance.”

Stensland says the shed meets state building codes, although it does not comply with the city’s zoning ordinance.

Citing state law, City Attorney David Frundt says, “it does not appear there are grounds to grant one (a variance).”

The new structure cannot be larger than 200 square feet, but the proposed shed is about 40 feet by 54 feet. Also, its 14-foot walls do not comply with the 10-foot limit.

Resident Tony Mosser says the issue is the height of the walls was not given on the permit.

“It was an incomplete application. Work wouldn’t have started, right?” Mosser asked Stensland, who replied, “yes.”

Steve Nowak, a members of the appeals board and Planning-Zoning Commission, agrees that city officials need to evaluate the process for issuing building permits.

“We assume our city officials know everything, and we shouldn’t,” he says. “He made a mistake, we did too. But, property owners also need to know what the zoning ordinances are.”

Councilwoman Ashley Seedorf, a member of the appeals board, voted in favor of giving the Dulases a variance.

“We were at fault and wrong. We shouldn’t take that out on the property owner,” she says.

Frundt says the Dulases may apply for a conditional-use-permit (CUP).

He says the Planning and Zoning Commission will have to hold a public hearing before a decision is made and makes a recommendation to the council.

“Doing a conditional-use permit gives you more flexibility in meeting state statute,” he says.

Council members would have the final say on whether a CUP is granted.

Dulas says the current shed on the property has 12-foot walls and will be torn down once the new one is finished. She says a larger shed is needed to store a motor home they are planning to buy.

Dulas reassured those at the meeting that the new building would not be used for their excavating business.

“If anybody thinks we are going to run our business out of there, they’re crazy,” she says.