Freestanding residence long used by caretaker on isolated property finally gets formal authorization
For more than three decades, Delmar and Kathryn Schlamp have maintained a free-standing apartment on their Herbie Lane property in the Town of Fredonia.
It wasn’t until recently that they learned the arrangement violates the town’s zoning code, which only allows one residence on a property with single-family zoning.
Earlier in the fall, the Schlamps explained to the town Plan Commission that the apartment has been used to accommodate guests or a caretaker to keep an eye on the isolated property.
The closest town officials could come to describing the arrangement was the notion of a “mother-in-law’s suite,” even though it has never been occupied by either of the Schlamps’ mothers.
Despite the long history, town officials determined the couple could only continue using the apartment if they secured a conditional-use permit from the town.
The culmination of that process came last week, when the Town Board approved the two-page permit following a public hearing that drew only the Schlamps.
Prior to granting the permit, Building Inspector John Derler visited the property and determined the second dwelling complied with state code.
A county inspection also verified that the second living unit is connected to an approved septic system, an issue which was unsettled until the inspection.
In the future, if the town rules that the owners have violated the terms of the conditional-use permit, they will be given 30 days to make the ordered corrections. A second inspection, at the owners’ expense, will then be conducted.
Town officials said the permit will expire if the property is sold or changes hands.
During a Plan Commission discussion of the issue, Town Chairman Richard Mueller said if the permit is issued, it should be made clear that the conditions are dictated by the specific case and do not mean the town is inclined to approve similar requests in the future.
The permit states the commission has deemed the second dwelling “not to be harmful, offensive or otherwise adverse to the environment and will not have an adverse effect on the value of neighboring properties or be detrimental to the health, safety and/or welfare of the public.”
According to the permit, the apartment may be used by “transient workers, guests and security personnel.”
At the last board meeting, town supervisors also unanimously adopted an ordinance change spelling out that property owners may not have concrete driveways extending closer than six feet of paved roadways.
Until the change, town ordinances prohibited concrete driveways from extending into the road right-of-way.
Mueller explained the new town wording reflects the policy already in place for county roads and is intended to minimize the damage to county-owned snowplows when they are clearing roads.
“Their plows catch the edges of these driveways and it wrecks their equipment,” the town chairman said.
Town officials said the six-foot setback requirement will not be enforced for existing drives, but it will be the new standard when new driveways are installed.