By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Zoning Board of Appeals has granted a variance requested by Ron and Evia Gehrman for their residence at 305 Main Street in Colfax to build onto the front of the house.
The Board of Appeals held a public hearing on the variance request August 10.
The Gehrmans plan to move the existing deck to the side of the house and to extend the house to the line where the deck currently sits.
The remodeling project will result in a setback of 15 feet and six inches. The village’s zoning ordinance requires a 25-foot setback.
The plan is to build onto the house to make the bedroom and the living room bigger, Evia Gehrman told the Board of Appeals.
Mike Kiekhaefer serves as the chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Other board members include Gene Gibson, Richard Bauch, Mark Mosey, and Jason Johnson.
The project also will include residing and reroofing the house, new gutters, and new windows, Evia Gehrman said.
The house was built in 1948, Ron Gehrman said.
The existing steps are closer than 15 feet and six inches already, Kiekhaefer noted.
Jason Johnson pointed out that from both the north and the south, the Gehrmans proposed project would not cause any sight restrictions and that it would be in line with other homes in the area.
A request for a variance requires all landowners within 100 feet be notified at least five days prior to the public hearing.
The following landowners were notified of the Gehrmans’ request: Karen Myers (307 Main Street); Leroy Nelson (312 Main Street); SLK Investments Properties (309 Main Street); Algie Ziebell (311 Main Street); Richard Knudson and Erik Brown (303 Main Street); Kevin and Patricia Davis (303 Fourth Avenue); Troy Knutson (310 Cedar Street); Karen Wagner, Kathleen Mitchell, George Entzminger (316 Cedar Street); Jeffrey and Brandi Rihn (302 Main Street); Nicholas Albricht and Kaitlin Burrington (306 Main Street); Wanda Auth (308 Main Street); Jon and Marian Scott (310 Main Street).
Board of Adjustment member Gene Gibson wondered if any of the neighbors were objecting to the variance and if any negative comments had been received.
Mitchell told the Board of Adjustment she was asking that the variance be denied until the junk had been cleaned up in the backyard.
The backyard is unsightly and is a health hazard, Mitchell said, noting that the backyard contains old water heaters, along with a variety of other items such as a refrigerator and an unregistered boat, and several sheds, including one with a tarp for a door.
Mitchell said there are rats around the property as well.
Other neighbors in the area have nice properties with mown yards, she said.
“We’re working on it,” Evia Gehrman said, objecting to Mitchell’s characterization of the boat as being unregistered.
The boat has current registration, although the current registration is not on the boat, she said, adding that they have not had time to take the boat out on the water in the past several years.
Ron Gehrman agreed that the boat was registered and that he has current registration in his possession.
Mark Halpin, who accompanied Mitchell to the public hearing, said he was concerned about the Gehrmans’ backyard, too, and that he would like to see it cleaned up before a variance is granted.
“It kind of bothers me we are a little lax as a village … there’s a lot of stuff there,” said Halpin, who serves as a trustee on the Colfax Village Board.
“I understand your concerns, but this is not part of our process (for a zoning variance),” Kiekhaefer said.
Any issues with the clean-up of properties should be brought to the Colfax Police Department and should follow the proper channels with the village board, he said.
Evia Gehrman said they planned to start work on the project as soon as possible.
According to Section 13-1-172 of the village’s zoning code, “variances, substitutions, or use permits granted by the Board shall expire within six (6) months unless substantial work has commenced pursuant to such grant.”
Johnson noted the six-month time frame.
The project will require a building permit, and there are time restrictions and guidelines for a building permit, too, Kiekhaefer said.
Kiekhaefer reiterated he understood Mitchell’s and Halpin’s concerns, but said cleanup of any property was not a zoning issue or a variance issue and that he would not want the Zoning Board of Appeals to set a precedent.
The proposed project at 305 Main Street will not put the house any closer to the street than other properties in the area, Johnson said after Kiekhaefer had closed the public hearing.
“Any improvement is positive,” he said.
The project will be governed by a building permit and the inspection process, Kiekhaefer said.
“I’m all for improvement,” he said.
Johnson wondered why the Gerhmans had elected to expand the house out of the front rather than the back.
“It’s not feasible to expand into the backyard,” Evia Gehrman said, adding that they would plan to expand the basement before adding on to the back of the house.
The Colfax Zoning Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to approve the variance request for Ron and Evia Gehrman for 305 Main Street.