Jul 22, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
As negotiations continue between the town of Fenner and resident Jim Christenson over the fate of Christenson’s building at the corner of Nelson and Peterboro roads, the Madison County Highway department has now become interested in the issue and has even offered to tear down the building free of charge.
Christenson, however, does not want the building razed, and plans to talk to each member of the Fenner Town Board individually to seek a resolution, said Fenner Town Supervisor Russ Carey at the town board’s July 9 regular monthly meeting.
At issue is a garage addition to the building built by Christenson without a permit more than a decade ago. A previous agreement between the town and Christenson stated the addition would be removed by June 2008, which did not occur. Recently, he applied for a variance from the zoning board of appeals to allow him to keep the building as it currently is.
The variance application brought the issue back to light and before the town board this past May, and the board had to decide whether to enforce the previous agreement and have the addition removed, or allow the owner to keep the addition but add stipulations about the future use of the building — and probably the imposition of a fine as well. The town has been negotiating the issue with Christenson since then.
At the May meeting, Town Attorney Jim Stokes said that since the building sits on a county highway, the Madison County Highway Department should be consulted before the board makes a decision, especially since the building is so close to the road it can be considered a public safety issue.
During the July 9 meeting, Carey said he had spoken to Madison County Highway Superintendent Joseph Wisinski who said the county wants to be involved in the discussions and issue resolution. Apparently, the county has been seeking to tear down Christenson’s building for many years because its roof drains empty into the county highway and in winter causes dangerous ice buildup. The county offered to tear down the building free of charge because it sees the removal as improving drainage at the intersection, Carey said.
Christenson does not want the building torn down, however, so discussions are continuing. Christenson may attend the town board’s August meeting to discuss the issue, Carey said. In the meantime, “the county wants to be informed before we do any resolution,” Carey told the board.
Also at the meeting, the board agreed to reduce the number of members of its board of assessment review from five to three. Fenner is the only town in the county whose board of assessment review has five members, “and you know we can’t fill it,” Carey said. There are currently four members on the Fenner BAR and one vacancy.
Carey suggested that the town board reduce the size of the board of assessment review to three, although “that isn’t as easy as it sounds.” Under the law, the town cannot simply reduce the number of seats but must wait until a member’s term of office expires and then remove the seat from the board.
Because one of the board’s seats expires in September, Carey proposed that the town board draft a resolution for a new local law to reduce the size of the board of assessment review to four members and have a public hearing on the issue at the board’s next regular meeting, scheduled for Aug. 8. The town board, minus Councilor William Wester who was absent, unanimously approved the action.
When another seat on the BAR expires in 2014, Carey proposed that the board undertake the same procedure of not filling the seat: write a new local law to reduce the board to three members, call a public hearing and then vote on the law.
At its June meeting, the town board unanimously approved the reappointment of Rhonda Weigand as town assessor for another six-year term to run from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2018.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.