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Fenner considers fate of building addition built without a permit

— The Fenner Town Board has to decide what to do about a building at the corner of Nelson and Peterboro roads that had a garage addition built more than a decade ago without a permit — yet the addition still stands.

A previous agreement between the town and the building owner, Jim Christenson, stated the illegal addition would be removed by June 2008 and Christenson placed $2,000 in an escrow account for the town to use should he renege. The addition was not removed, and the owner recently applied for a variance from the zoning board of appeals to allow him to keep the building as it currently is.

The variance application has brought the issue back to light and before the town board, which must now 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.

“This is a town board issue, not a ZBA issue,” Fenner Town Attorney Jim Stokes told the board at its May 8 meeting. “Under the terms of the [previous] stipulation, the addition needs to be removed. If he does not do it, you can use the $2,000 to pay for the removal.”

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.

Town Supervisor Russ Carey said he had spoken to Christenson, who said he “doesn’t care what we do, he just wants [the issue] cleared up.”

Councilor Henry Stoker was in favor of the town going in and removing the addition, saying when someone makes an agreement they should be held responsible for that agreement. Other councilors suggested allowing the building addition to remain but creating a new agreement with Christenson that would prohibit the use of two garage doors in the building because of the safety hazard they create being so close to Nelson Road.

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