Wheelhouse neighbor says parking lot not grandfathered
I’d like to provide additional information regarding the Aug. 11 article on The Wheelhouse’s commercial parking lot.
To be clear, when The Wheelhouse owner purchased residential property on Pleasant Park Lane in April 2015, the Waupaca County Zoning Ordinance did not permit residential property to be used for commercial parking.
While The Wheelhouse owner may have received conflicting information from the county on this point, the law did not allow his planned use. Before he began clearing trees, he was notified that the neighbors had received legal opinions to that effect, and he was also advised by the zoning director that his interpretation was subject to appeal, and The Wheelhouse owner should seek legal counsel before beginning his project.
Last fall, neighbors tried to resolve the situation amicably. They offered to buy the residential property and make The Wheelhouse owner whole for the purchase price and any improvements. Commercial property located much closer to The Wheelhouse was for sale for $180,000. They hoped he would take the offer and buy the commercial parcel to solve his parking problem. The Wheelhouse owner paid about $285,000 for the residential property in the spring of 2015. Six months later he said he would not sell it for less than $450,000 firm – with no justification offered for that price. The neighbors wanted the problem solved, but they weren’t willing to fund a windfall.
The Wheelhouse owner was advised by the county in December 2015 that the planned parking lot was not permitted under the zoning ordinance. A public debate over proposed amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance followed this past winter. Ultimately, changes proposed by the town of Dayton, and supported by residents, were adopted by the Waupaca County Board in May 2016.
As a result, off-site commercial parking would remain a non-permitted use on residential property, consistent with the zoning ordinances in all of Waupaca’s surrounding counties.
The Wheelhouse owner did not have a parking lot on his Pleasant Park property until May 2016, long after he was told by the county in December it was not permitted, and after he’d lost the fight on the new zoning ordinance. So, it is clear this new parking lot is not grandfathered.
Zoning ordinances are established so property owners know what they can do with their property, and what can be done with their neighbors’ property. We live on a dead-end, completely residential street. We expect our property rights to be protected.
There have been 20 to 40 cars parked on The Wheelhouse owner’s residential lot every day this summer in blatant violation of the law. If The Wheelhouse owner believes he was misled, he can try to sue the county for monetary damages, but he should respect his neighbors, abide by the law, and shut down his illegal parking lot. This matter has taken thousands of hours of people’s time, cost the neighbors well over $30,000 in attorneys’ fees, and dragged on for over a year already.
No one is above the law.