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Board handles zoning dispute, discusses fire department

By Ben Rodgers

SUAMICO – Area residents accused the village board of spot zoning Monday, Oct. 15, after a Suamico man wanted to build a storage shed on his property.

Robert Salesky owns a building he uses for hobby purposes at 12250 Velp Ave.

In order for Salesky to construct an additional building, his 2 1/2-acre plot was required to be changed from rural residential to neighborhood business.

The land is listed in the village’s comprehensive plan as a mix of residential and commercial. It currently has no water or sewer hookups, with no immediate plans from the village to install those in the future.

Even without the proper utilities required for business purposes, citizens were concerned about what might come down the road.

“We don’t want to invest approximately a half a million dollars in our property to have our value decrease,” said Troy Knaus, Salesky’s neighbor, who plans to build a house on land neighboring Salesky. “It’ll make our property harder to sell. I don’t want to live next to a gas station. I don’t want to live next to storage units. All that stuff is going to take effect on our property, adjacent to it.”

Salesky said he plans to keep the land as long as he can, and when he dies, will it to his niece and nephew.

“I don’t have any intention on changing anything for as long as I’m vertical,” he said.

Steve Dunks, zoning administrator, said for any business to open on that property, it would need to meet state requirements, which include water and sewer hookup.

Steve Kubacki, village administrator, said gas stations tend to favor corner lots, which this isn’t.

Dunks also said storage units are not allowed in that zoning designation, or anywhere in the village without a conditional use permit.

“This is not spot zoning,” Dunks said. “It may be expanding zoning further to the south than these individuals would like, but it’s not spot zoning.”

Knaus said any change to zoning would take away from the rural character of the land located off Velp Avenue, which used to house the Night Rider Snowmobile Club.

“We have a 6-year-old son, we want to build our forever home,” he said. “We want him to grow up and run around in the woods and be a boy.”

Village President Laura Nelson informed Knaus that the property is listed in the village’s comprehensive plan for potential commercial use.

“While we appreciate that you would possibly want to put up a single-family home because of the privacy involved there, we have to look and say ‘You want the privacy of a single-family home, but you purchased on Velp Avenue, on a county highway,’ and we have the comprehensive plan on our website, and it is directed at mixed use which is neighborhood and commercial,” Nelson said.

The rezone from rural residential to neighborhood business was unanimously approved, with Trustee Sky Van Rossum absent from the meeting.

In other news, a budget number review turned into a discussion on a proposed $50 fire inspection fee.

The board previously discussed the fee in detail. At the meeting some members weren’t happy with the information the board requested at an all-day budget hearing.

Jessica Legois, director of administrative services, presented the board with proposed tax levies, including the inspection fee and not including the fee.

With a fee the levy increased to $4.61 per $1,000 of home value, without a fee that increased to $4.64 per $1,000 of home value, a 7-cent increase from the current mill rate.

“When you segregate a class of our citizenry out there, say business, they lose their individuality and they become non-people,” Nelson said. “The people are behind the business and it’s people that feel the effects of those fees.”

The fees would help offset the cost of a full-time employee the fire department requested. That employee would in turn help with fire inspections, along with fighting fires.

Troy Noe, fire chief, said his department requested a full-time firefighter, even though he only works part time, because it needs people to jump on the trucks and respond to calls.

At least twice this past year, Noe said his department wasn’t first on scene to a fire in Suamico.

Trustee Michelle Eckert said it feels backwards to have a full-time employee before having a full-time chief.

Trustee Jason Ward said those in the department are best equipped to identify needs.

“The people actually doing it, that’s their skill set, that’s the boots on the ground,” Ward said. “I haven’t responded to a fire, I haven’t helped out at your firehouse, and we’re the ones that are going to dictate how they do things.”

Kubacki said the department will likely add more staff in the future.

Eckert and Nelson directed Noe to trim his proposed budget and come back to the board at a special meeting Oct. 29 that will cover the proposed Fire Station No. 1 and next year’s budget.

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