Originally Posted By: Sybil Brakken
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.
Thank you Mr. Myers and Mr. Farsetta for your quick response and helping me clarify the definition.
I'm not a codes enforcement official - just a lake protection advocate that wants to have the new zoning ordinances in our county (that were enacted specifically to protect lakes) enforced. I'm a full time resident and do volunteer work for local and state non-profit lake protection associations and am married to a teacher.
The guy in question is the son of a property owner on the lake I live on. He visits up here a few weeks in the summer and the rest of the year lives in a much more temperate climate working as a contractor/builder in his father's construction firm (or maybe as a partner in his father's firm.)
Short (?) story: He applied for a permit to raise the roof, put on a couple of dormers and put in new windows on an old cabin on a tiny island, was denied a few times, then approved. He tried to hire 2 local contractors to do the job but, according to him, they were too busy. He hired a contractor from a neighboring county and put his name on the permit. Somewhere along the line, the plans changed. The zoning office knew about it. Then the contractor from the neighboring county was gone (?) and the owner/contractor brought in his crew of 6 from several states away to do the job. The zoning office didn't know about that. We called the Zoning Administrator when we saw how much of the old cabin had been removed. The ZA did an inspection that day and put a 'stop order' on the job. The owner/contractor went to the ZA, said his building materials would be ruined if he didn't continue and signed a paper that he would proceed at his own risk. He enclosed the 'new' shell, put the shingles on and the windows in.
The issue went to the County Board of Adjustments where the owner/contractor talked about how much he loves the lake and wouldn't do anything to harm it. He said the ordinance's 25% rule was too ambiguous to understand, that he just didn't know what was meant by 25% (25% of what - area, mass, etc.?) and truly believed that each brick was a structural member. The county attorney then brought in the ZA and asked him if a brick was a "structural member." The ZA said, "I don't know!" The county attorney bought it and advised the board that if even the ZA couldn't define "structural member" then the ordinance is too ambiguous and they had to allow the project to continue!
We have a law in our state that makes all navigable waters part of the public domain. My understanding of the reason for the 25% rule is to eventually phase out the old, non-conforming cabins that are 0 to 40 feet from the ordinary high water mark on lakes. It's a lake protection measure based on many, scientific studies that have been done in several states.
I feel that if the guy really loved the lake like he said, he would have said, "There's a problem with the ordinance. You need to clarify it but I will not take advantage of this opportunity to go beyond the spirit and intent of the ordinance."
My take on this: the slick city guy pulled a fast one on the hicks from the sticks. Or, maybe there's more to this than meets the eye! At any rate - I don't think it's over. Too many people are worried about this setting a precedent and weakening the ordinance.
What's your take on it?