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Porter residents upset over businesses operating on residential properties

TOWN OF PORTER – Residents have been up in arms for months fighting as businesses encroach in their neighborhoods.

Lawsuits have been filed in a number of cases.

On Monday, the Town Board will have a public hearing to amend its town code on home occupations, adding the service and repair of farm and garden equipment to the types of businesses that may be conducted as a home occupation.

This is likely to further stir the pot.

Former town board member Mike McCabe has been criticized by his neighbors for operating a farm equipment sales and service business in a rural agricultural district on his Lake Road property. His neighbors, led by Lake Road residents William and Fredricka Dean, said he is operating out of town zoning codes. Their contentions were echoed by the town’s Planning Board, which unanimously rejected McCabe’s application to continue doing business on his property. The business had been operating without official approvals.

But McCabe’s attorney argued in June that the town board had changed it’s zoning laws in 2014 to allow farm and garden sales and equipment repair outside commercial districts.

Dean, who also fought the town in court, told the Buffalo News that the town had been moving forward to ban such businesses in residential neighborhoods, but now it appears to be making an about-face. He said he will urge the town board to reject the change proposed by the amendment.

“This could make it possible for Mr. McCabe to do exactly what he has been doing all along and we don’t want that,” Dean said. “There’s a huge amount of distrust here of the town board here, because the town board hasn’t done one thing in the past year and half to address this and help us. They’ve done nothing but help former board member McCabe. We want them to support us, as ordinary taxpayers.”

A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. and a work session will precede the meeting at 6 p.m. in Town Hall, 3265 Creek Road, to discuss the proposed change.

Other residents will bring their zoning-related concerns to the board as well.

Mark Lynch at 2089 Lake Road told the Buffalo News that the neighboring Lakeview Motel has extended its footprint into residential property by purchasing two residences, which they rent out, using the houses and garages, as four cottages. Lynch said this has gone on for four years with a constant barrage of strangers and a fleet of golf carts used as transportation to the lake.

He and his sister Patricia Lynch, at 2091 Lake Road, said they have tried for over two years to have this stopped and planned to file an Article 78 if there is no response from the Town Board and code enforcement.

And in an unrelated matter, a lawsuit was also filed to block clay mining on a proposed fish farm owned by Thomas Fleckenstein at 1953 Balmer Road. An article 78 petition was filed against the Town of Porter by Fleckenstein’s neighbor Thomas Freck.

The suit contends that the approval granted to Fleckenstein to operate a fish farm and dig two ponds totalling 22 acres was merely a means for Fleckenstein to circumvent the town’s prohibition on clay mining.

Fleckenstein told the News that he was removing clay from the property but that it always has been primarily envisioned as a fish farm.

The lawsuit to block construction of his fish farm was dismissed in State Supreme Court on Friday and the court ruled that it was a permitted use.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com

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