Proposed storage shed and replatting requests spark concerns among nearby residents
An area along the north side of Lake Mitchell where property owners have been seeking to construct a storage shed has sparked opposition from nearby residents.
Although Henry and Patricia Flack, and Jack and Pamela Winegardner’s request to replat a plot of land in Barington Court, located on the corner of Fiala Road and North Harmon Drive, was approved by the Planning Commission on Monday at City Hall, several nearby residents opposed the decision, citing the move as an attempt for the Flack family to eventually build a roughly 3,200 square foot storage shed on the corner of Fiala Road and North Harmon Drive along Lake Mitchell. The Planning Commission approved the lots in a 4-1 vote, with Commission member Doug Molumby representing the lone vote to deny the request.
The replatting approval comes after the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously denied the Flack’s previous request for a conditional use permit to build the 3,200 storage shed during the May 11 meeting. However, at the May 18 City Council meeting, the council tabled the Flacks' request for the conditional use permit to build the shed.
City Council member Marty Barington, a son-in-law of the Flacks, spoke on behalf of the Flack family, defending the request to replat the lots, which could allow for future development.
“I believe there is another place for the other issues being brought forth, whether it means revisiting the ordinances and taking a look at shouses and whatever else,” Barington said. “We have several plats every week that come to the Planning commission and City Council, and we’re asking for the replat of two lots on our property that is rightfully owned by us. The other situations that are coming up I think there is another place for that.”
Dale Odegaard, a nearby resident living in the area where the proposed shed would be located, opposes the building concept, citing the shed would not aesthetically blend into the existing residential area. In addition, Odegaard alluded to the Residential Lake (RL) District that the property of the proposed shed is intended to be built on, noting the city’s RL zoning district does not permit the type of shed that Flack is seeking to build.
“The entire area is zoned RL, which means it is a very strict Residential listing, and there is not one home in the area, or any one person who would like to see any change at all in the residential property there,” Odegaard said. “Why is this replatting proposed this way, and what are the future plans after this is approved or disapproved?”
In response, Commission Chairman Jay Larson said he couldn’t answer what the Flack family’s future plans for the property are with the approval to replat the two lots, but he emphasized the replatting request is within legal grounds considering similar requests are commonly approved by the Planning Commission.
“It’s their property, and they can do with it what pretty much as they want, because it is only a replat that has been platted previously, and that is allowed,” Larson said.
Odegaard said he and the nearby residents have heard rumblings that the Flack family is attempting to get around the zoning process by building a “shouse,” which is a relatively new building concept loosely defined as a workshop combined with a living quarters.
Phil Becker, a nearby resident who lives on the adjacent property to the south of the proposed shed, opposes the shed concept, due to the possibility of the residential area becoming ridden with similar style of sheds, hurting the existing neighborhood aesthetics.
After delving into the city’s building codes regarding shouses, Becker said there is not any language included in the city’s existing codes. He cautioned the council and Planning Commission to steer clear of approving a building structure that isn't defined and regulated in the city codes.
“There have been new developments that the Flacks are possibly going to propose building a shouse to get around the zoning regulations in that area, which would then allow a standalone shed on a residential lot,” Becker said during the public input portion of the June 1 City Council meeting. “Most people we talked to in Mitchell had no idea what a shouse is. They also assumed there was already code preventing such structures on residential lots, but there really isn’t. We feel this loophole to get around the code is wrong, and opens the door for future problems related to the style of sheds in a residential neighborhood.”
Becker urged the city to update the codes to provide regulations for shouses. To Larson’s knowledge, there have not been any proposals brought to the Planning Commission seeking to build a shouse.
Council member Dan Allen, the council liaison for the Planning and Zoning Commission, agreed to begin looking into potential regulations regarding shouses.
According to City Planner Neil Putnam, the only buildings that are permitted to be constructed in Residential Lake zoned districts are single-family dwellings and accessory buildings that can not exceed 2,000 square feet.
Chad Cahoy, a resident who is in the process of building a home near the proposed shed area, addressed his concerns of the replatting, asking if the lots will eventually lead to rezoning the district from Residential Lake District to one that allows for sheds to be constructed.
“My assumption was when we picked out this lot that it would be in a residential district, and will this take us out of the residential district. Because if it is changing, then that is a whole different ball game because I don’t want to look across the street and see a shed when I build a house,” Cahoy said. “I don’t want to build where there is going to be some sheds going up, and I would have had second thoughts on building here.”
Larson reassured the replatting would not change the zoning district from the current Residential Lake District that Cahoy is intending to build a home on.
“Replatting has nothing to do with the zoning, and if you replat it, you now have two big lots instead of the four to six smaller ones,” Larson said.