Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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What to do with Linton welding shop

by Steve Targo

May 16, 2013

Weiss
LINN — "The property has lost its luster," said Jim Weiss, chairman of both the town and its plan commission, on the phone Friday.

He was talking about a former welding shop in Linton, located on W4070 and W4062 Linton Road. Recently, Jon and Jeff Reed, of Reed's Construction and Pier Service, purchased the property. Operating as J&J Fabricating Real Estate LLC, they're asking town and Walworth County officials to approve a rezone and conditional use permit request.

If approved, it would allow them to remove the existing buildings on the property, replace them with two pole barns used for welding, equipment maintenance and construction and mechanical work. The permit would also allow Reed's to store piers and boat lifts outside.

"Right now, they're running out of space for fabricating and storage at their South Shore Drive location," Weiss said. "They felt (the Linton Road property) would be a better place for that operation."

To authorize this type of use, the 0.65-acre parcel needs to be rezoned from R-1, which is a single-family residential zoning classification, to M-1, which is light industrial.

That's what the plan commission is expected to discuss at its May 28 meeting. Typically, the commission makes a recommendation to the town board.

Then, the board would send its recommendation to county zoning officials, who have the final say.

At the an information-only commission meeting April 8.

Weiss said some people who spoke in favor of the request, and others expressed concerns.

Some are in favor because the property could use some sprucing. But the concerns lie within the existing character of that area — a character which seems to have a split personality.

Currently, residential and agricultural uses surround the former welding shop.

Houses line the corner of Linton and Maple Ridge roads to the east. To the west is farmland.

The west part of the property, which abuts the residential area, has been used as a welding shop for "as long as I can remember," Weiss said.

Now that ownership has changed hands, the issue comes before town and county officials.

A similar request was turned down last year.

In July, commission and town board members denied John Trossen's request to rezone residential property near his business, The Pier, N1806 Linn Road, to commercial.

He wanted to build a storage shed to house commercial vehicles, boats, ice shanties and other equipment.

Weiss said the Reed's and Trossen requests share a similarity. Both involve changing the zoning of land to uses contrary to what was stated in the town's Comprehensive Plan.

"John Trossen wanted to expand business or commercial (use) into an area deemed residential," Weiss said. "Reed's wants to expand manufacturing into an area slotted agricultural in the Comprehensive Plan."

But there's a difference.

He said Trossen has two separate parcels — one zoned for business, which is where The Pier is located, and one zoned for residential use. He wanted to expand his business on the residentially zoned property.

"This Reed's property is one parcel, currently with split zoning, (which is) two zoning classifications on one parcel. The county doesn't like split zoning on same parcels," Weiss said.

If the land used on this parcel were split into separate lots, these lots would be substandard, he said.

"Rest assured, there are a number of substandard lots throughout the county, and throughout the town of Linn, but the county frowns upon creating new ones," Weiss said.

The split zoning makes it not so clear of a case between whether allowing the new owners to clean up the property versus the potential for impacting the existing use in that area.

How does Weiss feel about it? He said officials should look at how the Reed's request would affect the surrounding area.

Is this an area where they increase manufacturing zoning?

He said he will not comment on that at this time, but he offered this bit of advice to fellow officials.

"We need to look real hard, going forward, what is the appropriate zoning classification," Weiss said.