By Adam Ilenich
Meridian Times staff writer
A rule designed to preserve the township’s aesthetics could deprive a young woman of her freedom to move around and live in relative comfort due to her disabilities.
The Meridian Township Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance that would allow for an emergency backup generator to be installed front of the home of a physically disabled Meridian resident.
The proposed generator would violate an ordinance that says, “no accessory building shall project into the front yard.
Dennis Geisenhaver, president of THEE electric company, explained, “we’re installing an emergency backup generator, and the township considers that an “accessory building. They normally don’t allow accessory buildings in the front yard within certain distances from the road.”
Brian Beauchine, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said, “A structure is a building and a building is a structure based on our ordinance, and the only thing that isn’t a structure is a fence, wall, or utility pole. Things like this (generator) are typically classified as an accessory structure. It’s the same thing as a small utility shed. Even though it doesn’t require a building permit, it’s still a structure.”
The generator is for a young woman was in a car accident has to be in a wheelchair and a hospital bed. An electric lift is used to move her in and out of the bed, so power is necessary to transport her.
“Last time the power went out they needed to move her but they had no way to move her out of the bed,” said Geisenhaver.
Board member Carol Ohlrogge explained the the zoning ordinance.
“Usually, it’s for aesthetics. But it can also be a safety issue, if you can imagine people had sheds in their front yards. It would be unpleasant to look at and also be a safety issue for firefighters trying to come into homes. Safety is always our first concern,” said Ohlrogge.
“We’re not a policy making body,” Ohlrogge went on to say. “The regular board makes the policy – issues will come up and every applicant has the right to take the question to the board, and request that the ordinance be changed.”