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Will town’s outbuildings get larger? PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Morton   
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 18:07

Supervisors open to talks as horse owner keeps fighting for riding arena

The pressure on the Town of Saukville to relax restrictions on the size of accessory buildings is mounting, and one town supervisor is on board with the request.

During Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, Supr. Curt Rutkowski sympathized with resident Dave Elsila, who on May 9 was shot down by the Plan Commission when he asked for a conditional-use permit that would allow him to exceed the 2,500-square-foot limitation on such buildings. He is hoping to construct a 6,000-square-foot indoor horse-riding arena on his eight acres along Highway I.

“I’m not trying to start a business. I’m not opening a repair shop,” Elsila said Tuesday. “I’m just trying to exercise and enjoy my horses. We’re not talking about an eyesore.”

Rutkowski said he believes the growing number of horse owners calls for a revisiting of the limitation.

“People have horses out here, and I don’t think such a thing would create a hardship for anyone,” he said. “If there’s no groundswell of opposition, I’d ask for some latitude. There’s a gray area here.”

That gray area stems from the fact that Elsila would not be exceeding the town’s 5% maximum ratio of buildings vs. land.

He has a house and a barn on his lot and the proposed riding arena would add up to just 3%, he said.

Elsila’s request was among a handful that have been denied in recent years, spurring resident reaction at the well-attended May 9 meeting.

“You’re preventing people from doing something desirable,” resident Al Gosewehr said. “How many of you think larger buildings should be allowed?”

A majority of resident hands went up in agreement.

Gosewehr also said the town is missing out on more taxable property value.

“We could use the money to fix our roads,” he said.

One neighbor, however, voiced concern that a riding arena within sight could devalue his property.

Supr. Mike Denzien on Tuesday worried that dropping the 2,500-square-foot limitation would “open Pandora’s box.”

“First of all, it used to be 2,000 (square feet) and we made it higher,” he said. “That’s higher than most neighboring communities.

“Yeah, you’ve got your horse people but you’ve also got your NIMBYs (“Not In My Back Yard”). I don’t want to see it come down to us just asking $350 for a site plan with no basis for denial.”

Elsila then proposed another idea — rezoning his property from its current A-4 designation to A-1, 2 or 3. Those designations correlate with the town’s five-acre lots, the smallest allowed, and those lots have fewer restrictions on structure-density ratios.

“I’m trying to find a way to build this building because I think I should be able to do so,” Elsila said.

Denzien was quick to counter the suggestion.

 “You’re missing the intent here,” he said. “In 2011, we reduced lot sizes to five acres and while it’s not air tight, the intent was to allow for land divisions without the need for rezoning. Not for something like this.

“We’d be looking at public hearings, updates to maps — probably about 10 steps. We don’t want a public hearing every other week.”

But Elsila insisted the rules aren’t fair.

“I like it rural and I like the space, but I have to deal with people carving out five-acre parcels,” he said. “I’m surrounded by five-acre neighbors.”

The board made no ruling and plans to continue conversations.

If a change is made, Town Chairman Don Hamm suggested a closer look at setbacks could ease concerns.

“Keeping them (larger buildings) farther away from property lines would help,” he said.

Despite his concerns, Denzien said he was open to further discussion.

“I’ll lean toward what the people want,” he said.

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