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Colfax zoning board delays decision on Midwest Classics

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals has postponed making a decision on a request from Brian Longdo, owner of Midwest Classics, to add another semi-trailer box for storage at his property on Third Avenue.

The zoning board held a public hearing on Longdo’s request February 6.

Although no members of the public attended the meeting, the zoning board received two letters from neighbors near Midwest Classics who were opposed to the idea.

Longdo told the zoning board that he has owned and operated Midwest Classics for 12 years and that a second semi-trailer box would be the quickest, easiest way to add more storage space.

Longdo installed the first semi-trailer on the property in the past year or two.

In a letter dated January 24 sent to Mike Kiekhafer, chair of the zoning board, Colonel Craig Bogan and Amy Bogan said they objected to the idea of a second semi-trailer for storage.

“We purchased our property in the Village of Colfax almost 22 years ago while a small, fairly quiet repair shop operated across the street from us. It was, and is, reasonable for us to expect that since that repair shop operated in a completely residential area (having pre-dated zoning regulations), it would not expand its operations or completely change into an entirely different operation,” the Bogans wrote.

“An additional semi-trailer on the small property directly across the street from our home does not positively affect our prosperity, aesthetics, or our property values. It allows Midwest Classics to expand its business as a storage yard (clearly not the original intent when this small residential business started years ago and something that belongs outside village limits, not within a residential area) while negatively impacting our quality of life,” they wrote.

The second letter, dated February 4, was from Homer and Diana Madison of 507 East Third Street.

The Madisons also objected to a second semi-trailer being moved onto the Midwest Classics property.

“For the past 23 years we have lived on Third Avenue and our property is adjacent to Midwest Classics, so the view from the west side of our house is a white semi-trailer. The addition of another semi-trailer (which may or may not be white) will surely affect the aesthetics and value of our property and of this part of the neighborhood. This is an entirely residential area, except for Mr. Longdo’s repair shop. We should be able to expect that the regulations that are already in place would protect us by not allowing Mr. Longdo’s property to become a storage facility and also ‘stabilize and protect existing and potential property values and encourage the most appropriate use of land throughout the Village,’” the Madisons wrote.

Commercial zoning

Kiekhafer noted that the repair shop at 503 E. Third Avenue had been there for as long as he could remember, dating back to his childhood.

Kiekhafer also pointed out that the Midwest Classic property actually is zoned commercial and is subject to commercial zoning regulations and not residential zoning regulations.

Longdo said he had talked to some of the neighbors in the area and that the people he had spoken to did not object to his proposal.

By the same token, Longdo said he was quite concerned that there were neighbors who objected to his proposal.

“I want to live in this town and be able to walk down the streets,” he said.

One of the items that Longdo would like to store in the semi-trailer is an old John Deere tractor that his grandfather bought new in 1958.

Longdo said his father had acquired the tractor from his father, and that Longdo has now acquired it from his father.

“Dad is 74 years old now, and I would like to restore (the John Deere) while he’s still around to see it,” he said.

And while other people might not see the value of Longdo’s possessions, “they are treasures to me,” he said.

Storage unit

Since the semi-trailer would sit flush with the ground and would not be up on wheels, it would be a storage unit and not a trailer, Kiekhafer said.

“If (Longdo) wanted to build a storage shed, we would not be having this discussion,” he said.

On the other hand, Kiekhafer was concerned that allowing the semi-trailer would be “bending the rules of the ordinances.”

“I wish there was a happy medium” Longdo said, adding that he would not want to do something that would affect his neighbors’ property values.

Fence

Kiekhafer wondered about the possibility of Longdo building a privacy fence to screen the Midwest Classics property from the view of the neighbors.

Longdo said he certainly could build a fence and that he would be willing to talk to the neighbors to see if a fence would make them feel more comfortable.

“I’m not planning on doing this until spring anyway, so we’ve got plenty of time,” he said.

Scott Gunnufson, village president, attended the public hearing and suggested that Longo collect a list of names of neighbors who are in favor or opposed to the proposal so that the neighborhood would have a chance to respond.

Gene Gibson, a member of the zoning board of appeals, objected.

The notice for the public hearing was published in the newspaper, and Midwest Classics’ neighbors had every opportunity to either send a letter to the zoning board or to attend the pubic hearing, he said.

Postponed

The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals ultimately decided to postpone making a decision on Longdo’s proposal.

Before making a decision, Kiekhafer said he wanted an opinion, either from Colfax Police Chief Pete Gehring or the village’s attorney, on what constitutes a trailer and whether a semi-trailer with the wheels and undercarriage buried underground would be a trailer or a metal storage unit.

Longdo noted that he had installed the first semi-trailer that way so that it could be moved if it ever needed to be moved.

Kiekhafer also said he wanted Longdo to ask the neighbors about a privacy fence.

Another public hearing notice will need to be published, so the zoning board’s next meeting could be held in about three weeks, said Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.

A second public hearing before the Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals is tentatively scheduled for March 5.

In addition to Kiekhafer and Gibson, Mark Mosey serves on the zoning board as well.