The Village of Williams Bay is at it again. The Board of Zoning Appeals once again sided with neighbors over the actual property owner in a variance appeal. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this, and you can be sure that without changes to their backwards variance ordinances, it won’t be the last. The parcel of land is on the West Bank of Williams Bay, and measures 60 x 541- roughly 400% larger than the other homes in the subdivision. This is a platted parcel with its own tax key number and accompanying $14,000+ tax bill. For 21 years, the owner has paid taxes on this parcel to the tune of roughly $150,000. The owner presented a modest 3000 square foot home to be built on this lot 100′ from the lake, and agreed to meet the side yard and street yard set backs for the zoning district. Sounds pretty good right?
The village unanimously denied his request, choosing instead to value the whining of the neighbors over the plea of the property owner. The property owner who they have no trouble collecting $150,000+ in taxes from, yet do take issue with his desire to use the property. The neighbors who obviously like the idea of having a vacant lot next to them, although only one two neighbors would have been even remotely impacted by the construction. It should be noted that the vast majority of the neighbors present with their crocodile tears are not even adjacent property owners,. One adjacent neighbor was in favor, the other was opposed. The opposed neighbor wouldn’t have had an ounce of view blocked from his property, yet he was opposed. I suppose he’d also be opposed to the parcel owner planting a row of evergreens to block out his view, yet he wouldn’t have any say in that matter. Planting trees to block your neighbors view? Just fine. Building a house on your own property that won’t block your neighbors view? Not a chance.
See, that’s just one of the problems with the Village these days. They practice selective enforcement of their variance policy. The subjective nature of their actions prove that if a few neighbors show up to moan and groan, your variance attempt is shot. A homeowner in Cedar Point can tear down an existing home and build a new home within 50’ of the water, and they approve of that. Build a home 100’ back of the lake on a lot three times the size of the Cedar Point lot? They say no. Three other variances had been granted for new construction within a ¼ mile of this property in the past year. Why did they grant those and not this one? Because selfish neighbors didn’t show up and protest. The Village places more importance on the outcry of neighbors than they do on approaching each request with something in short supply in the Village. Common sense.
I wonder how the Village will react if the property owner who they denied files suit with the Village seeking repayment of his $150,000 in tax payments. I wonder how they’ll respond when he seeks for a tax adjustment from $14,000 down to $0 to reflect the value that the village just placed on his vacant lot. The Village needs to open their eyes to what it is that they’re doing to their own citizens, and act in a more responsible manner. Complaining neighbors should not take precedent over the rights and desires of the actual property owner.