Pole Barn Conflict – Pointing Fingers at the Wrong People

I’ve been following stories by Emerald Morrow, reporter for WLNS-TV in Lansing, Michigan. Here is the latest:

Residents fed up with a lack of dialogue with Lansing-based Niowave over a 14,000 square foot pole barn in their neighborhood have taken matters into their own hands, staking signs in their yards to let the company know the building is unwelcome.

Dozens of the anti-pole barn signs can be found up and down the streets of the Walnut neighborhood. Neighbors say they’ve had the signs for about two months, but held off on posting them at Mayor Virg Bernero’s request.

The mayor asked the residents not to post the signs so long as Niowave was showing an effort to work with neighbors. However, after the mayor announced that a meeting scheduled for last Thursday between Niowave and the residents would be postponed, neighbors went forward with placing the signs in their yard.

“We’ve made all sorts of effort to be in contact with Niowave,” said neighbor Penny Gardner. “All we’re asking for is the neighbors to be included in a fix of the building so that aesthetically we have something that matches.” Other neighbors have said it’s important that the façade of the building be upgraded or camouflaged to prevent property values from dropping.

Lansing City Councilmember At-Large Carol Wood said she understands the neighbors’ frustration. She adds that the city is working to adopt an ordinance that would allow neighbors to have more input in situations like this.

Mayor Bernero insists that Niowave has every intention of meeting and working with residents, and that the company has a positive track record with the community. “Niowave has been a wonderful addition to the neighborhood,” he said. “I don’t think anyone would argue [with that]. He said Niowave has purchased and added value to several homes in the area, and has converted an empty school – that would have otherwise been abandoned – into a flourishing business.

Calls made to Niowave on Monday were not returned. It is unclear when the company will reschedule a meeting with the neighbors.”

My humble opinion…..

From the information provided in this and earlier articles, it appears the pole barn owner, Niowave, applied for and was granted permission to build by the appropriate city agencies. Nowhere has it been stated the building does anything but comply with the existing regulations.

If the neighbors are taking issue with a structure which has been lawfully constructed, then they should be the ones who are offering to pass the collection hat and pay for any changes they would request, provided the building owner is agreeable.

These neighbors should also work with the city, to craft policy which would prevent similar circumstances from arising in the future. Many communities do indeed have ordinances that dictate what any building needs to have to “fit in”.

I’ve seen everything from building sheathing requirements, to façade colors and textures as community compliance requirements. This goes not just for a pole barn, but for any building newly constructed.  There are many very attractive “pole buildings”.  If I showed you many of the photos we have in our Hansen gallery, you’d truthfully be unable to tell if the framework was “stick built”; steel framework, or a “pole barn”.

I believe the onus for change and any costs should be borne upon those doing the complaining and the yard sign to be merely a misguided attempt to put pressure to unjustly fall upon a complying business.

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