Dispute between Lake Mitchell neighbors lands before councilOne neighbor wants a fence and a building; another wants his view of the lake.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
A dispute between two Lake Mitchell neighbors over sightlines spilled over into the Mitchell City Council meeting Monday night.
Colin Kirkegaard, who lives at 137 S. Harmon Drive, has built a 6-foot fence near the shore and plans to build an accessory building behind it. He received permission to do so Monday.
His neighbor, Bill Lurkin, who lives next door at 139 S. Harmon Drive, objected to Kirkegaard’s plans to erect the secondary building and said the fence has cost him the majority of his view of the lake.
The city previously declared a moratorium on issuing building permits along Lake Mitchell as it seeks to determine the high-water mark at the lakeshore.
Kirkegaard asked for a permit and argued that his building will not encroach upon the lakeshore.
Members of the City Council Public Works Committee toured the two neighboring homes Monday afternoon and heard from both men.
“If there’s someone who could explain to me how the moratorium applies to this here, I’m all ears,” Kirkegaard told the city officials.
“I’m just saying that’s not fair. We were here first,” Lurkin said. “Why should he be able to block somebody else’s view of the lake?”
The men used to be friends who played golf together and went on boat rides. The Kirkegaards have attended a Christmas party at the Lurkins’ home.
But Kirkegaard then tore down his old house and is having a larger one built, along with plans for the accessory building. An earlier design for the building was rejected by the Planning and Zoning Commission this summer and he has altered the plans to deal with those concerns about the high-water mark.
Friendly relations are now at an end, both men said, thanks to the fence and accessory building.
They attended the City Council meeting 90 minutes after the shoreline debate and asked for a decision.
Kirkegaard said lakeshore residents purchase a view from their home, not one that blocks development by their neighbors.
He asked for a “quick disposition” on the matter, since construction is being held up.
Kirkegaard said the location of the accessory building is important because of slope and drainage issues, as well as the need to be able to move his wife, who uses a wheelchair, between the house and the accessory building, which he said will have storage, a shower and a “summer kitchen.”
Lurkin, who has lived at the address since 1998, said he had volunteers ready to collect signatures to call for a change in city law to prevent someone from erecting a fence or a building that would reduce views on the lake.
The council decided that the moratorium does not impact the secondary building and said Kirkegaard could apply for a building permit today.
Council members also said there is little sense in creating a law banning fences that obscure views or regulate where buildings can be placed.
“To me, this would be like us saying, ‘You can’t paint your house pink,’ ” Councilman Mel Olson said.
Council President Jeff Smith said it’s the first time he can recall the council having to make a decision because two neighbors at the lake were at an impasse.
“What disappoints me is that you two can’t come to some kind of an agreement,” Councilman Phil Carlson said.
Other members of the council said they sympathize with Lurkin but there is no law to stop Kirkegaard from moving ahead with his plans.
“I don’t know how we can do anything else,” said Councilman Marty Barington.
Kirkegaard said he would not remove the fence — unless he built something more permanent.
“It ain’t coming down,” he said.