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EM resident upset about swimming pool ordinance

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND — An Elk Mound resident is dismayed to discover that a swimming pool he installed in his front yard is illegal and violates the village’s swimming pool ordinance.

Jeff Wolf, who formerly served as a village trustee, appeared before the Elk Mound Village Board during the public comments portion of the August 1 meeting.

Wolf said he had purchased a swimming pool at Wal-Mart for $100, had asked for a sewer credit for 1,100 gallons — and then had received a letter from the village informing him that the pool is illegal.

The letter said that the pool needed a building permit, a fence, and that it was required to be installed in the backyard and not the front yard, Wolf said.

“The pool ordinance is outdated. It is intended for permanent structures,” he said.

Wolf held up a tiny wrench that he had used to put the pool together.

“Something that I can put together with this little wrench requires a building permit?” he asked.

The building inspector’s fee in Elk Mound is $40.

“I have to pay $40 to inspect a $100 pool?” Wolf said, adding that about a dozen similar swimming pools are located within the village that do not have fences built around them.

When residents ask for a sewer credit, that is how village personnel know a pool has been installed, noted Pat Hahn, village clerk-treasurer.

Wolf said he believed the village was “picking on him.”

Andy Peterson, village president, said representatives for the village do not go around town checking for ordinance violations.

“It’s not our job to go to every house. We act on complaints we receive, or we inform new people that have moved into town (about certain ordinances),” he said.

Wolf said he had moved back into town in April after an absence of several months.

The village has that particular ordinance on the books because of concerns about children drowning in unsecured swimming pools, Hahn said.

The ordinance applies to pools that are 24 inches deep or deeper, she said.

“The fence is to keep other kids out. It’s all about protecting kids,” Hahn said.

Wolf seemed somewhat incredulous that the village would have an ordinance to protect children who are trespassing on someone else’s property.

“I could show you a hundred ordinance violations,” Wolf said.

“We will take a look at it. I agree (that some) ordinances have problems,” Peterson said.

Wolf said he planned to take the pool down in the fall and that it is not a permanent structure.

If public safety is the issue, certain culverts in the village should be fenced, and one particular house on University Avenue is a public nuisance, he said.

“All things take time,” Peterson said.

Wolf left the meeting after being informed that he had used up the three minutes allowed for addressing the village board.

The Village of Colfax has a similar swimming pool ordinance that applies to both above and below ground swimming pools that are 18 inches or deeper..