Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ignorance Of The Law

First, Happy Memorial Day as we honor those who died for our right to a free American life. As you picnic and celebrate, remember to give thanks to those who are no longer with us, allowing us the liberty we have.

How often have you heard that line?  Now, for the salt in the wound - I retired from the federal court system.  You have NO idea how many times I heard that cliche phrase: Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

As a "happy" farmer and proud owner of 18 chickens and a brand new chicken coop, you'd think all is well.  Unfortunately, to quote Professor Hill of "The Music Man" - You got trouble right here in River City. (BTW, if you click on the link, you can hear the song from musical.)

Yup!  I ran into trouble - not so much with the city as the township.  Seems I crossed the line with the building of my chicken coop.  I was told by several friends, family, and other people that if you put up a temporary building, you don't need a permit or approval.

Ah, yeah. About that. Seems I was being ignorant of the law.  MY township has rules and codes and one of them is a simple thing.  ANY structure needs a permit.

Seems simple enough.  Take my hand slap, buy a permit, and apologize for my ignorance, promising not to do it again.

Oops!  Seems the building is "in front" of my house slightly and not off the property line by a minimum of 5 feet.  Oh, also, it needs to be 15 feet from the house.

Since it is a 'temporary' structure, it can be moved.  Supposedly, the contractor built my home 35 feet from the property line.  That's plenty of space to move the coop back a foot, keep it 15 feet from the house and still remain over 5 feet from the property line.

Hm?  Seems the online satellite image of my property shows the house a mere 25 feet from the property line. Doing some quick math - 15 house offset + 5 foot property line offset gives me a whopping 5 feet to work with.  Uh, the coop is 8x12 with 6 inch overhangs for a size of 9x13. Anyone with a feeble knowledge of math can quickly realize this isn't going to work.

So, my sons are bringing over a laser sight to show the property line and we'll work from that information.  If the line is 35 feet from the house, we will move the shed.  If the distance is truly 25 feet - the only place available to maintain the chickens will be the floodplain and that is not a feasibility since it is also close to the woods - which will tempt all the woodland critters who enjoy chicken dinners as well as I do... and snakes that enjoy eggs.  Not a good working environment.

Again, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.  I have a beautiful 8x12 structure that may soon be nothing more than smoke and ash if I can't resolve this.

Don't even consider the word variance.  When I bought my permit and we discussed placement of the structure, I uttered the word variance.  The guy was nice enough but assured me the trustees have a simple way of handling all variance requests - deny.  I guess they haven't approved a variance in years.  I know the night (over 10 years ago) we got approval to change our property from farmland to residential, they denied a variance request unanimously.

Uh, that might be another issue.  I'm considered residential.  Chickens might be frowned upon.  I figure I will cross that bridge this week when I know the guy who approves permits comes out to check on the property lines since there seems to be a 10 foot difference.

On a brighter note - my tomatoes are planted outside, my garlic is coming along quite well - so far and I finally got my onion sets planted.  I also planted 2 green pepper plants.  I went in search of a couple flowers to plant to accent my orange petunias.  I decided white would do it.  My wife thought yellow would be pretty - so I got some yellow ones, too.  Then she found a deep purple with small yellow throat petunia.  She no longer cared about my orange petunias and wanted the yellow to surround the purple one.  So she won that battle and it is now growing in the large planter on front steps.  I put the orange petunias with the white petunias, a light and dark purple sweet alyssum and lime green sweet potato vines on the ends.  So far, they look pretty and the orange petunias should start blooming in the next week or two.

I still have the green beans and beets to plant in the raised garden bed.  I decided to casually throw the sweet corn in the old backyard garden, along with cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash.  I know that sounds silly but raccoons don't line vines so maybe they will leave my sweet corn alone.  I don't plan to weed the patch.  It may work - it may not work.  Hopefully, I'll get something out of the patch since the ground is uneven and my lawn service (#1 son) doesn't like to mow it with his rider - which I understand.  So much experimental gardening this year.

On the writing front, I decided to make a major change to my next Amish novel.  By doing so, I'm now psyched to get writing on it again. In fact, the idea energized me so much, I want to write and write but realize I have other obligations to address - like an edit job for another client.

Until next I ramble on...

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