Variance request

This addition is being built only 7.5 feet from the lot line. The owners, Shawn and Amber Milbrodt, are requesting a variance, but the next-door neighbor, Mary Ellen Staum, is opposing it.

The Elk Point City Council heard from both sides of a variance request at its regular meeting Monday, Aug. 3.

Shawn and Amber Milbrodt are seeking a side-yard variance for an addition to their home at 209 N. Jackson St. The footings are already in place and the walls are up, but because of initial confusion on where the lot line is, the structure is only 7.5 feet from that line.

Mary Ellen Staum, who lives at 211 N. Jackson, is contesting the variance. She was represented at the meeting by her daughter, Dawn Rosenbaum, and son, Danny Staum. They said their mother has privacy concerns, since her living room window on the south side looks directly onto the addition, which has a large window directly opposite hers.

They also said their mother wants to be a good neighbor, but she also wants her privacy.

Council member Lance Penfield asked what Rosenbaum and Staum think the council should do.

“Well, the thing is, with them building, they’re against, they’ve already violated it,” Rosenbaum said. “I feel the city is going to open up, this fact that, if I want to build and I know I’m going to be too close to that line, I’m going to quickly build and then I’m going to go into the city and ask for a variance, because they’re not going to require me to tear anything down.”

“I agree,” Staum said. “I don’t want to see it torn down, but maybe in the future, whoever hands out the building permits, go out and survey the property before dirt is being moved.”

Penfield said the problem is not with contractors; they know how to build. The problem is with homeowners who are doing their own work and don’t know all the steps to follow.

Mayor Deb McCreary said things need to be changed and that process has begun. City Administrator Derek Tuttle said he had talked to City Inspector Gary Roan and told him to follow up on every building permit from here on out.

Rosenbaum said a compromise here would be a privacy fence between the properties, but she doesn’t feel her mother should have to pay for it. She proposed the Milbrodts build the fence.

Shawn Milbrodt said they would build the fence if the city granted the variance.

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.