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Mitchell City Council grants permit for motorcycle repair shop after owner gains a neighbor's support

The council approved Dustin Vander Hamm's conditional use permit to operate the repair shop in a 6-2 vote amid some nearby residents' concerns of the business becoming a potential nuisance

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Harley-Davidson motorcycles on display at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show in Tokyo.
Bloomberg
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MITCHELL — Two weeks after tabling a Mitchell man’s conditional use permit to operate a motorcycle repair shop due to nearby residents’ concerns, the Mitchell City Council gave Dustin Vander Hamm the green light Monday to begin operating.

At the request of the council, Vander Hamm spoke with those who were against the motorcycle repair shop, citing concerns of potential nuisance issues. Although Vander Hamm said he was able to gain support of one nearby resident in the past two weeks, the council approved the conditional use permit in a 6-2 vote.

“I talked to Kyle Crago (Vander Hamm’s neighbor), and he said he was totally fine with it all,” Vander Hamm said.

Prior to making a motion to approve the conditional use permit, Council President Kevin McCardle said "If Crago is in favor, I'm in favor."

The city’s requirement for Vander Hamm to secure a conditional use permit to operate his repair business initially came as a surprise to him, as he’s been performing repair services on his own motorcycles in his shop, located at 2951 S. Rowley St., for quite some time. He said he wasn't aware of complaints until his recent application was submitted.

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Sam Fosness covers Mitchell city government. Here are more of his latest stories ...
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“I only plan on working on around 10 bikes per year. This is a part-time thing,” Vander Hamm said. “I have two degrees from Mitchell Technical College in farm power and power sports. I’d like to use my degrees.”

Council member Susan Tjarks, who previously echoed some of the concerns about the repair shop potentially becoming “unsightly,” pitched a suggestion for Vander Hamm to build a fence around the area where he will be operating his motorcycle repair shop.

“I think that’s something that would be helpful so it prevents the line of sight a little bit,” Tjarks said during Monday’s meeting.

Tjarks ultimately voted against the conditional use permit, in part due to Vander Hamm’s past of working on his own bikes in his shop without a permit.

Councilman Marty Barington questioned whether installing a fence would be economically feasible for Vander Hamm considering the costs. Vander Hamm also noted a shelter belt and row of pine trees surround the area where his shop is located.

“There’s not much line of sight anyways,” Vander Hamm said.

Council member John Doescher joined Tjarks in voting against the permit, pointing to the development’s covenants that state the lots in the area shall be used “solely for residential purposes” and concerns of what could happen if the repair shop were to significantly grow.

“I know covenants are not enforceable unless you civilly sue each other, but do the covenants mean nothing?” Doescher asked Vander Hamm.

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Some residents have also cited the neighborhood’s covenants as reasons they oppose Vander Hamm’s conditional use permit. City Planner Mark Jenniges said the city does not regulate or enforce any covenants within the city. Covenants are regulations that are typically put in place in a residential neighborhood by a developer. For example, some neighborhoods in Mitchell have covenants that regulate the length of time vehicles can be parked on streets within the development.

Councilman Jeff Smith issued his support for Vander Hamm’s motorcycle repair shop after talking with his father, who told Smith the operation would be “the same we’ve been doing out there for years.”

If the repair business does end up growing more rapidly than expected, Vander Hamm said he would move to another location.

“There’s physically not room to grow. I’d end up moving in town to a bigger commercial building,” he said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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