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Letter to the Editor-Resident Takes Issue with Lack of Hatton Township Zoning Process

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Letter to the Editor,

As our parents get older, the topic comes up quite often of caring for them when the time comes. My dad has had some issues with his diagnosis so we decided they need to live with us or as close to us as possible so they can be well taken care of as they age. Considering our house was built in 1870 and is all hand-hewn logs, modifying it for handicap accessibility would be difficult to say the least. We figured since we have 100 acres, building an accessory building or guest house would be the perfect solution. We could build something aesthetically similar to our house and completely handicap accessible in every aspect. We already have two wells, and we have two electric services. We would not need to get a mortgage so a bank would not have to be involved and someday it would be ready for my wife and I to live in for when we can’t get up the stairs anymore or get our walker or wheel chair into the bathroom.

Knowing Hatton Township is zoned, we contacted their zoning administrator, Dave Farrell for a zoning permit. He told us NO. Told us we could not have two residences on the same property. We tried to explain this would be our house, an accessory to the main house that we can’t modify, and he still said NO. So, we had to request (under FOIA of which we paid for them) a copy of the ordinances. Considering we live in Hatton Township, we should have been given the ordinances in the first place but nevertheless, we wanted to make sure we had all of them.

Well we received them….or so we think we did. The zoning ordinance which is almost 30 years old still has the word “DRAFT” across it. There were other ordinances, some had the number of the ordinance, some did not, most said “DRAFT”. Just an unorganized mess. After reading the ordinances we contacted the zoning administrator, Dave Farrell, and requested an application for a variance. He straight told us NO. He said Hatton Township will allow us to move in a single wide trailer, but we can’t build another house and we can’t have an application to even request a variance to do so.

We did not want to cause any ill feelings, so considering the township ordinances were so old, outdated and technically in “DRAFT” form as well as no Master Plan attached (which must be updated every 10 years) we hired an attorney and respectfully requested Hatton Township consider updating their ordinances and we included examples of areas that allow for an accessory dwelling which is also referred to as “granny flats’ or “mother in law dwelling.” We waited for almost two months for a response which was basically thanks but no thanks. So, through our attorney we requested in writing to re consider and allow us an accessory dwelling since our home cannot be modified for handicap accessibility. Two more months have gone by and still no response.

I am outraged. We are trying to do something good here. Hatton Township wants to enforce a 30-year-old outdated zoning ordinance but won’t enforce their blight ordinance which their zoning administrator is clearly violating and has been for years. So how do they pick and choose what ordinance they are going to enforce and which one they are not. It looks to me that they are going to not enforce anything that might pertain to any of the township officials.

Wouldn’t you think a township official should readily comply? Yet he expects all Hatton Township residents to comply with ordinances.

Again, I do not like to cause trouble. I just want to take care of my parents in the way they deserve.

Johnny Phelps

Harrison

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