Town U-turns on barn midway


After initially approving the project, the town of Fortville issued a stop-work order on a pole barn going up in the town’s Old Bridge neighborhood following neighbors’ concerns over the structure.

Mitchell Kirk | Daily Reporter

FORTVILLE – After initially approving the project, the town of Fortville issued a stop-work order on a pole barn going up at a businessman’s residence following neighbors’ concerns over the structure.

The town issued a building permit for the 3,200-square-foot, 24-foot-tall structure at Jake Burgess’ residence in Fortville’s Old Bridge neighborhood. Burgess owns FoxGardin Kitchen & Ale downtown.

Nearby residents brought up the project at a Fortville Town Council meeting earlier this month, including Dave Fischer, who took issue with a pole barn being built in a residential area.

“It’s not a residential garage,” Fischer said. “I would like to know how that got approved, and what’s going to happen to it.”

Members of the audience said the structure dwarfs Burgess’ home and others nearby and that the planned metal exterior would clash with the mostly masonry neighborhood.

Adam Zaklikowski, Fortville planning and building director, said at the meeting that photographs Fischer supplied of the work in progress appeared consistent with the building permit for the project. He added that it appeared to meet the town’s building code and zoning requirements.

Debate stirred between Zaklikowski and members of the audience over whether the structure is a pole barn or a garage. The application for the building permit states pole barn, while the permit states detached garage. Zaklikowski said the two terms are interchangeable.

He also noted during the meeting that Old Bridge does not have a homeowners association. If any covenants from when the neighborhood was platted would prevent such an accessory structure, that would give residents an avenue to challenge the development, he added. However, covenants are not enforceable by the town.

After the town council meeting, the town issued a stop-work order on the structure. Zaklikowski told the Daily Reporter the decision was made because the planned building does violate the local zoning ordinance due to its height exceeding that of the property’s principal structure – Burgess’ home. He added it also violates a certification on the building permit application stating construction will conform to private building restrictions, like neighborhood covenants.

Zaklikowski declined to comment on why those violations weren’t determined before the building permit was issued.

“We’re currently working with Mr. Burgess,” he said. “We understand the concerns that have been raised by the neighbors and we’re hoping to work together to resolve the issue.”

Burgess deferred comment to his lawyer, Gary Salee.

“We’re doing our research, but it appears that Jake has done nothing that is improper or unlawful, and that whatever situation they all find themselves in now was caused by the permitting authorities at the town of Fortville, or the builder who applied for the permit, or both,” Salee said. “… Either the builder or the town or both have erred at Jake’s expense. And Jake is willing to be a good neighbor, and he will live with whatever happens, but he doesn’t want to pay for that.”

Blitz Builders is building the structure. An attempt to reach a representative of the company able to comment on the matter was unsuccessful.

Not all of Burgess’ neighbors oppose his initial intentions, however.

“It’s his property,” said Ruby Northcutt, who lives nearby. “He can build a barn or a garage all he wants. … As long as it doesn’t look like a shack, I really don’t care what he does to it. It’s off the road. It sits back. You don’t like it, don’t look at it.”