A Stowe man is upset at how a neighboring property owner is developing his land and says he’s contemplating legal action.
Heath Eiden lives on Pucker Street, next door to a historic building whose barn is being renovated, a project approved by the town.
The project is at 1186 Pucker, site of what Eiden said is one of the original houses in Stowe, if not the very first one.
The current owner, Matthew Karlin, asked the Stowe Historic Preservation Commission last week to approve some alterations to his designs, including changes in the roof material and a retaining wall.
Eiden said Karlin has this year made drastic changes, including making the stone retaining wall too high, which he claims has disrupted the natural habitat and affected his property. Eiden also said he thinks Karlin is using the barn as storage for commercial equipment.
“It’s very clear that what’s going on here isn’t what was originally represented,” Eiden said during the commission meeting, noting he had retained legal representation.
Problem is, that commission doesn’t have any say in what people do to their property. It’s an advisory board and, while its opinions do carry weight with zoning officials, those opinions are not binding.
“I appreciate your position, but we’re simply looking at the visuals,” the commission’s Sam Scofield said, and the commission has no control about how a property is used.
The property is in a residential zone, where the town zoning director, Sarah McShane, can issue a permit on her own unless certain criteria require a review by the town’s development review board.
One of those triggers is if a wall is higher than 8 feet, which is the case on the Karlin property. But Karlin told town officials he would agree to lower the wall 2 feet to avoid going through the review board process.
McShane has not yet issued a permit because she’s still waiting on additional information from Karlin.
Eiden said the development on Karlin’s property has “become a cloak for what has been a nuisance next to my house,” and he said workers were even “pissing on my lawn.” He said a nearby river has been displaced and the development will have a negative effect on wildlife, too — “the deer, the moose, the fox, the gopher, the bear that are used to traveling through here.”
Karlin seemed surprised at the resistance.
“Everything was hunky dory until recently,” he said.