Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A fence, a neighbor, a city zone inspector

A Fence:
Here is the story about my fence. We took the whole week after Labor Day weekend off from work just to get the side yard redone. After killing ourselves tilling the old grass under and smoothing the lot out I procrastinated on if I should build a fence (most visible) or a deck. Beth reminded me that we need to keep the dogs from wandering and that it would be nice to let them outside without standing and watching in the blazing sun and frigid cold. So I started digging post holes, by hand.
My neighbor George came over with his own post hole digger and really rolled his sleeves up and dug a good 10 of the 20 I needed dug. Never asked for a thing in return. Very cool guy.

In the basement, I built a jig out of a 4x8 sheet of plywood so I could layout the parts for each fence panel. Each panel is custom because??? well some are 54" wide some are 58" and on down the line. Ok I didn't measure so well spacing wise. I did nail the posts laser straight down the line though. But I digress, I have my jig, I can lay out each panel with all the spindles nicely spaced, solid so I can (get this) screw each spindle in (3 screws each, and counter sunk thank you). Only takes about 30 mins to do panel. Haul that bad boy upstairs and outside to do a custom fit. Sounds awesome huh? (too bad there aren't any pics uploaded to see)
On the last Saturday I ran out of spindles and the local HD was out and the HD in Bloomington was out also. So I put the project on hold until I could get more material.

A neighbor

I am surrounded by them, most of us are. Unlike friends, we can't pick neighbors or family.
Some neighbors are cool (like George) and some are not like the one who lives on the north side of the street. Almost to person that I have talked to about what happened says her name through clenched teeth.

A city zone inspector

Beth sends me a text with a pic attached on my phone. A stop work order stuck to the fence with a number to call. So I call the number and talk to Mr. Maddox of the City of La Salle zoning dept. I thought in the back of my mind that I forgot to get a building permit and that is what this is all about. So I ask Mr. Maddox how much I owe for the permit. He politely told me that the permit was only part of the issue. The other issue was the height of the fence, and lastly (not really) where the fence was installed. See the city of La Salle has a right of way that encroaches 40 ft from the center line of Wright St. 40 ft? Really? I was laughing at the guy. I asked him point blank "your fucking with me right?" No sir was the reply. He went on to tell me that the fence ordinance was enacted in 1952 and was consistant with other municipalities....blah, blah, blah.....I told him I don't give a shit about other cities, just my yard.

La Salle Illinois is a nice town, there are parts that have been neglected and the down town is dieing. Pretty much like any other small city in reality. But we have a new mayor and he is trying to clean things up and really pushes hard for people to clean their shit up, ummm homes and property I mean.

Mr Maddox goes on to tell me that the only fence I can have on "my property" is a (get this) 30" high chain link fence, and it can only go out to 9' 3" from the east side of my house so as not to go onto the city right of way. Now some quick math. 40' from center line of the street, and 9' 3" equals a total of just under 50'. Effectively leaving me with nothing!! I was floored! I can't do anything with my yard but pay taxes on it. He even told me that I can't plant trees or bushes in the right of way and that I probably should have had a building permit to re sod the fucking yard!! I had tears I was laughing so hard! I could not believe it. All the other people that have trees and bushes and hedges (more about that) were grandfathered in. Now wait, didn't you just tell me that the ordinance was enacted in 1952? and most people have only lived here at the longest 40 yrs?? I was getting pumped and no reach around afterwards.

The guy was pretty polite, but after hanging up the phone I felt dirty and a strong need to take a shower. I called the mayors office and left a message.
I called the alderman and left a message. The alderman called me back and said I have to request a variance to the ordinance and I have to go stand in front of the City Console and plead my case.
After writing a letter, taking pictures, and drawing a diagram of what I wanted to do with my yard, I sent the packet into the City and waited till Monday. I am still tryng to decide if I want to go through the bullshit of getting approval for a deck now. Or just build it and ask forgivness later.

Monday night the Mayor shows on my doorstep. Kind of blew me away. We talked a bit and he took off and said "I hope to see you at the meeting".
Beth and I cruised downtown and pleaded our case. I felt like I was standing in front of the principle office in High School again. I told the Alderman and the Mayor that at the meeting. told them about all the money we have spent on the house, that after 18 yrs of military service I never thought that I would ever have to defend my own property. Talked about the trees we took out, etc. etc.
The exercise was kind of cool really, I got to see City politics in action and the processes.

The board approved and gave approval, but! I have to pay $200, enter into a contract with the City and "pay a lease" yearly on my own property! But the City attorney (ass hole) says that I have to go in front of the Zoning Board, plead my case then go back to the City Console for final approval. For christs sake! it will be November before I can finish the fence.

Mr Maddox told me that a city employee turned me in, but "we" all believe it to be my North neighbor that actually called. From the grapevine, she calls the City at least once a week to bitch about something. It is pretty routine for them to get the call. So what do you do? she lives through her windows! and gossips. I look at it this way, I am going to outlive the old bat and in a couple years? I'll buy her house after she is gone and do whatever I feel like after that!!!

So I wait on the City and time..................what a bitch!

1 comment:

Nina said...

Glad I'm not the only one w/ one of these lunatic neighbors. Mine continuosly calls the bldg dept to report that I'm WORKING on it (nothing that requires permits, just stripping paint, repainting, etc). This is a guy who was just arrested for NOT working on his and ignoring all notices and not appearing in court (and his 2nd offense). He's a sociopath who has gone as far as to climb in my window to yell at me for work I was doing INSIDE the house. I'm about to try to get a restraining order. Its been 2 yrs of harassment, trespassing, vandalism, threats, etc.