YOUNGSTOWN - Is it a town zoning matter or a fight between neighbors?
It depends on who you ask.
Mark V. Lynch, a resident at 2089 Lake Road, has charged that the Town of Porter has failed to follow its own zoning laws by allowing two lake front properties, owned by Lakeview Motel owners Christine and Wally Nowacki, to be used as rental cottages.
The Lakeview Motel is across the street and is not at issue in the argument. The properties in question are being marketed as Youngstown Lakeside Cottages, four units housed in single-family homes along Lake Ontario, at 2087 and 2085 Lake Road and 2053 Lake Road.
Lynch told The Buffalo News that he and his sister, Patricia Lynch and his attorney Max Coykendall, met with Supervisor Merton Wiepert, Town Attorney Michael Dowd and Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer Roy Rogers on Sept. 28. Lynch said he will put that private meeting on the record at the Town of Porter board meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.
Lynch, and his sister Patricia who lives at 2091 Lake Road, contend these rentals of single family homes by "transient hotel guests" have lowered their property values with a "constant barrage of strangers over the past four years. "
Mark Lynch said on Sept. 28 they presented 81 pages of documentation, including photos and marketing documentation, which clearly shows short term commercial activity at the houses. He further contends that the town code does not allow motel activity in a Waterfront Residential Zone.
Christine Nowacki said they consulted with Rogers every step of the way and have improved the properties since they moved there, spending at least $10,000 on landscaping alone.
"If anything, their property values have escalated by improving this barren, desolate place," said Nowacki. She said they have owned the motel for 16 years and bought 2085 and 2087 Lake Road from an estate sale in 2013. She said at that time the owner would only cut the grass once a year.
"The grass and the weeds were waist high," she said. "The outhouse was the best standing building. We actually tore down one building because it was so bad. "
But she said the troubles began with the Lynches when they asked Mark Lynch to remove a fenced-in dog run that was improperly built on their property. She said they also had to call the health department when he piled dog feces along the property line.
Nowacki said the Lynches live on the east side of the property, but they have had no complaints from neighbors on the the west side.
She said when the Lynches had a big party they were good neighbors and didn't complain when people parked on their property or walked through their property to get to the beach.
"When we decided to rent our the properties we went to the town - Roy Rogers [the town building inspector] - and he said everything was in order, go-ahead. We've taken our cues from the town and asked them what the rules and regulations are and ready to abide by them," said Nowacki.
She said they were never asked to present a plan to a zoning or planning board.
Lynch said his concern is that the town will change the zoning laws to allow the Youngstown Lakeside Cottages to continue.
"We've learned over the last three years that (Rogers) has allowed this operation to be built and operate and the owners of the hotel have told the world they have been encouraged and permitted every step of the way," said Lynch.
Lynch said in their private meeting Dowd told them that he was afraid the town would be sued if they tried to close down the cottages and will instead rewrite their codes to allow the cottages to continue in one form or another.
But Lynch said they firmly believe that this commercial activity is not allowed in a waterfront residential zone without specific variances.
"We believe no further language should be added (and no changes made) unless a variance is requested. That is the process that needs to be followed," said Lynch.
Nowacki said she and her husband make sure their guests follow the rules and regulations, but they and their guests have felt harassed by the Lynches.
She said they live at 2053 Lake Road and this is their neighborhood too.
"We are not doing anything different than a whole slew of other people are doing along this lake," said Nowacki.