After hearing from a concerned neighbor, the Piatt County board on Nov. 13 voted down a variance for a “she-shed” that a resident wanted to erect on his property about two miles north of White Heath.

Aaron Brakke, who lives next door to the property at 1193 Sandra Lane, complained that the 12-by-16-foot shed would get within four feet of his property line. That is less than the zoning standard of 10 feet, which is why Alfred Beitelman needed a variance. He said the main reason for placing it there would be so that current drainage patterns would not be disrupted.

But Brakke said the building would block light to the west side of his house, and was concerned it could be a hazard to his home if the outbuilding experienced a fire.

“While I do not wish any conflict with my neighbor, and I understand his concern for his water, it still doesn’t seem appropriate to put this where it is, right in front of the only window we have,” Brakke told the board.

Despite a 3-0 recommendation from the zoning board of appeals on Oct. 23, County Board Chairman Ray Spencer felt complaints of direct neighbors should be weighed in.

“My personal opinion is, if a neighbor objects, we sort of need to seriously think about whether we can change the 10-foot setback,” said Spencer. “If no one objected, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But I do have a problem if neighbors object.”

“I’m opposed to this because of the neighbor’s complaints, and I think we need to follow the ordinance,” added county board member Bob Murrell.

Beitelman felt the shed, which he described at the ZBA meeting as a “she-shed” to store his wife’s gardening supplies, along with some of his lawn equipment, would not greatly alter the view of his neighbors.

“Between the neighbor’s house and the property line, there are quite a few trees. There’s probably a 10-foot maple tree, there’s probably 20-foot trees too, and 30-foot evergreens with branches that would to a large degree hiding the shed from the hide they have on the west side of their house,” said Beitelman. “I think it will be a pleasing building. I considered building toward the front of the property, but that would be more in view of the subdivision, and I’m kind of opposed to putting outbuildings in front yards.”

The board ended up voting 5-1 to deny the variance, with Randy Shumard casting the only “yes” vote.

Wind ordinance changes delayed

The board tabled consideration of wind ordinance changes in order to have more time to review them. The ZBA approved amendments on Oct. 24, including an increase in special use permit fees for large wind farms to $150,000.

Amendments would also increase the amount of insurance coverage a wind farm applicant would need to carry, and clarifies setbacks by the height of the turbines. Noise and radio interference are also addressed.

In other action, the board:

–heard from Nursing Home Director Scott Porter that a switch to a new public health records system, which began in the spring, is complete;

–was told by Piatt County Mental Health Director Tony Kirkman that the new mental health worker in the schools had 69 appointments with students in the first 15 days on the job;

–made the following appointments: Bruce Stoddard to the Goose Creek Drainage District No. 4 board; William Jerry Brown to the Grandview Mutual Drainage District board; and David McLearin to the Piatt County Mental Health board;

–approved a resolution outlining the use of an appellate prosecutor when needed on court appeals; and

–approved an amended contract with the Piatt County veterinarian for a lower rate of pay due to budget cuts.