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County highway department interested in fate of Fenner building

— 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.

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