BOARDMAN Bargain solves pile of protests
All those involved left the meeting satisfied.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Township residents in the Crimson Trail-Auburn Hills Drive area have agreed to end a dispute that has been causing a big stink in the neighborhood.
Frank and John Uhrain own and operate Uhrain Garden Market on Maple Avenue, a business that grows and sells various plants and plant products. The business has been going strong since the mid-1920s and has been using four pieces of property to the rear of the business for composting since the 1950s.
About a decade ago, however, Crimson Trail Condominiums were built just beyond the four lots used by the Uhrain brothers for composting. Property owners in the condos say the smell from the business is just too much to stomach.
"The odor nearly kept us captive in our own homes," said George Pugliese, condo resident, at a zoning appeals board meeting Wednesday night. "We could hardly leave our homes or use our patios."
The township zoning department issued the Uhrains an abatement notice requesting that they stop using the property for composting, but the Uhrains elected to take the matter before the zoning appeals board. Atty. Glenn Schwartz, representing the Uhrains, said his clients were well within their rights to use the property for composting because that is an agricultural use permitted in a residentially zoned area.
Darren Crivelli, assistant zoning inspector, said the township had reached a "gentleman's agreement" with the Uhrains earlier this year in which it was agreed that no compost material would be deposited close to the property line.
The businessmen said that agreement fell to the wayside because of persistent complaints from the condo residents and a dispute over the exact terms of the agreement.
Frank Uhrain said that, in an attempt to be neighborly, he has not touched a natural buffer of green plant life between his property and the condo association.
"These are our neighbors and we try to get along with them," he said. "This whole matter has been blown up out of proportion."
After hearing both sides, board members Atty. John Shultz and Kenneth Wilson asked if a new written agreement could be worked out between both sides to preserve harmony in the neighborhood.
"Can't we sit down and work this thing out?" Shultz asked. "These people have substantial investment in their property and [the Uhrains] have a substantial investment in their livelihood. Can something be worked out? We are trying to accommodate everybody."
The board got its wish. After meeting in private for 15 minutes, the parties agreed there would be no composting for 20 feet from the property line and no grass clippings for 50 feet from the property line.
The condo owners also have the option of installing a pine tree barrier, at their own expense, on Uhrain property.