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04-27-05 Mendon officials curb dispute with return of drives

By Timothy Cox

  MENDON -- The village's zoning board recently intervened in the town's ongoing reconstruction of Main Street, which led to additional work by the project contractor.

  Other village officials questioned the zoning board's role in the issue, which became a "fiasco" earlier this month, according to one council member. The flap eventually was settled by the plain-spoken common sense of a village employee.
  Zoning board members met April 9 in what was reportedly a contentious session revolving around the Main Street reconstruction project. Some board members apparently were unhappy with the large number of driveway approaches contractors were placing along the new curb; some of them led into front or side yards, and not garages. Zoning board members apparently wanted to limit driveways to only homes with garages to reduce the shabby appearance of cars parked on lawns.
  Zoning board member Mike Bowling, who also serves on council, reported to council about the meeting, even though he was absent from the gathering. The zoning meeting at one point broke up and reconvened at Mayor William Buffenbarger's house, where the mayor said zoning board members "ganged up" on him.
  The group eventually ordered Shinn Brothers' workers to remove a concrete driveway approach that had been poured and replace it with a curb. The order was later rescinded, and the new curb was torn out and replaced with another driveway approach.  No cost for the extra work was immediately available.
  Council President Roy "Butch" Davis said zoning board members were out of line taking on the issue themselves. Furthermore, Davis said, April 9 was way too late to address the issue, just a couple of weeks from completion of the $770,000 project.
  Council member Terry Seibert agreed. The street project plans and expenses were approved by council and only can be modified by council, he said.
  In the end, it was street commissioner Randy Serverns who took charge of the controversy. He told zoning board members their concerns about driveways should have been discussed in the planning stages of the project. Severns also ordered contractors to install driveway approaches in every spot where there previously had been one.


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