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Walnut Township to enforce one shed rule

MILLERSPORT – “A” shed and “an” accessory building are allowed per dwelling in Walnut Township, Zoning Inspector Ralph Reeb explained Tuesday night.

“We have places at Fairfield Beach that have three or four sheds,” he added. But it’s not just Fairfield Beach where property owners and tenants have ignored the one shed limit. Reeb has sent out several letters to offending property owners and more are in the works.

“We just have to stop it somewhere,” he told trustees. “If they can prove they got a permit, we have to eat it.”

“If they can’t produce a permit, they have to comply,” Reeb. Reeb said assistant county prosecutor Jason Dolan told him there is no statute of limitations on failure to obtain a zoning permit.

He outlined four options for property owners in his original letters. They are:

• Pay the $375 filing fee and appeal his decision to the township’s Board of Zoning Appeals;

• Pay the $375 filing fee and request a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals from the one shed limitation;

• Remove the additional shed(s); or

• Ignore his order and wait for the township to enforce it in court.

“We’re giving them due time to comply,” Reeb added.

One of the letters went to Fairfield Beach resident Lee Pritchard. Reeb said she installed a second shed and then sought a permit. The permit was denied on the basis of the one shed limit and her permit fee was returned. Pritchard asked trustees in writing to either waive the one shed limitation in her case or the $375 fee to seek a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals. She said the fee represented a financial hardship. Pritchard said she bought the second shed to move some of her possession out of commercial storage building because she couldn’t afford the $80 per month rent.

“It might not hurt to waive the fee,” Trustee Sonny Dupler suggested. Trustee Wally Gabriel said he could go along with that suggestion, but acknowledged that it will set a precedence. Gabriel ultimately moved the waive the filing fee for her, but said she must go before the BZA and live with their decision. His resolution was unanimously approved.

Earlier in the meeting, Fairfield Beach resident Robert Bullock asked trustees to approve his use of a steel shipping container as a shed. Reeb told Bullock to bring the issue before trustees.

Bullock said about 10 years he asked an earlier zoning inspector about using the container as a shed and was told it fell outside the rules. He didn’t get anything in writing.

“They (shipping containers) won’t be allowed in the new book (zoning resolution),” Reeb told trustees. “It is still a gray area in our (current) zoning code…Nothing was addressed on a storage container.”

Trustee Ralph Zollinger moved to allow Bullock keep the storage container and it was unanimously approved. This time Bullock will get it in writing.

In another zoning issue, road supervisor Randy Kemmerer reported that a Park Street resident on Lieb’s Island recently had sod removed from the front yard and replaced with stone to create a parking space for a recreational vehicle. Kemmerer said the new parking space extends about 15 feet into the road right-of-way. He’s already received two complaints about it.

“Seeing around the motor home is a hazard,” Dupler added. Gabriel moved that due to safety issues created by blocking clear view of the intersection, the property owner will have to remove the camper from the road rightof way. Dupler and Zollinger agreed.

In other business, Thurston- Walnut Township Fire Department Chief Jim Hite reported adding three new volunteers and one part-time firefighter. Hite said Battalion Chief Scott Hite is moving up to assistant chief and will run day-to-day operations. Assistant Chiefs Jimmy Barber and Jamie Carroll will move down to battalion chief. Hite reported a total of 39 runs in May – 26 EMS and 13 fire. The department didn’t make one run due to inadequate staffing. Only two people were available for a mutual aide fire run, but three are required.

Kemmerer said the Shelly Company has completed repaving all the streets on Lieb’s Island. The actual cost was $47,267.82 which was $188 less than the estimate. Trustees unanimously approved a partial payment in that amount to Shelly.

Trustees also formally accepted the construction drawings for the first phase of the Cherry Lane reconstruction project. Approval clears the way to seek bids.

Dupler asked the small audience how they felt the shed enforcement effort. Jane Neely said it’s part of the day-by-day loss of individual property rights. “You’ve got all kind of junk out there that is being ignored,” Bullock said. He questioned going after sheds when junk cars and worse are being ignored.

Trustees’ next regular meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 14. A hearing on the 2010 budget has been set for that meeting.

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