Salted with Sharks

Evacuation/Stop Work Deadline Passes, Putney Workers Still On Site, Work Continues

In Agriculture, Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, On and off the Apron on April 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm

By Emily Votruba

Village zoning administrator Ken Bonney came by today to give the Alert a copy of the letter he sent to Loy Putney April 24 outlining the reasons for the stop work/evacuation order.

Letter from Ken Bonney to Loy Putney April 24

The letter outlines the history of the situation since January 9, when Mr. Putney applied for a land use permit for apartments. A land use permit is required whenever a change in use is proposed. In this case, the change was from “motel” to “apartments.” Because the Village zoning did not yet have a definition for apartments, and apartments were not an established use for the area in which the property is located, Mr. Putney was then required to submit a special use permit and application for site plan review. (At the April council meeting, Planning Commission recommended, and Council approved, a definition of apartments and the inclusion of apartments as a special use for district in question.) Mr. Putney did not appeal this decision, and did submit applications for site plan review and special use permit on February 26. Those applications are still under review, because, the letter says, Mr. Putney did not supply all the information required by the ordinance at the hearing on April 16.

That hearing will continue at the next Planning Commission meeting, on May 7 at 7 pm at the Elberta Library.

The letter refers to a letter sent April 19 from Village attorney Ed Roy to Mr. Putney’s attorney, Brad Putney, advising the Putneys that MDARD has not taken the position that he was free to remodel and occupy the site without zoning approval.

Included with the letter are parts of the zoning ordinance dealing with enforcement procedures. The penalty for noncompliance may be fines of up to $100 a day or a maximum of 90 days in prison.

Yesterday Brad Putney sent the Alert a copy of his April 25 response to the April 24 letter. Letter from Brad Putney to Ken Bonney In the letter, Brad Putney claims that the requirements of the Planning Commission are only applicable to new construction and were issued to cause undue burden and expense. He further says that the portion of the building now being occupied has met “the State’s safety requirements,” presumably meaning MDARD’s requirements for labor housing, for which Mr. Putney received a license for two units on April 19.

Also on April 19, Brad Putney submitted two FOIA requests, one to Sharyn Bower, Village Clerk, requesting the zoning map that was in effect on March 28, and copies of the wetlands surveys performed for the sites of the current ball field and Community Building located adjacent to Putney’s property. At post time this reporter has not found out why the wetlands surveys were requested. It also requests the complete assessor’s file for Putney’s property, with dimensions. The FOIA request to the Planning Commission was for all communication between the Planning Commission and the Village attorney with Ginger Bardenhagen, labor housing inspector for MDARD. Putney FOIA request to Elberta Planning Commission   Putney FOIA request to Sharyn Bower April 19

According to Bonney, as of noon today, the two families who moved in to Putney’s proposed Elberta School Apartments over the weekend of April 20 are still there, and renovations are continuing.

“It ain’t anything against the people [who moved in]. The rules are the rules, and they apply to everybody. This is nothing compared with what other people have gone through.” Bonney cited the Trick Dog coffeehouse on Bye Street as an example of a long permitting process in the Village’s history.

“Judge Batzer ruled that our zoning ordinance didn’t allow labor housing. [Putney] was supposed to put apartments in there. If he did that and followed the ordinance and then put his workers in there and let them live there for free, or whatever arrangement, nobody would have minded.” Ψ

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