It's a face-off that has left the skating rink and neighborhood and has landed in city hall.
Fenton resident John Jones has built a backyard ice rink behind his home in the Andover Woods subdivision for about six years. Recently, however, a neighbor filed a complaint with the Homeowner's Association and the dispute has city of Fenton officials drafting an ordinance on backyard skating rinks.
"I was very disappointed to find one disgruntled homeowner wants to take away the one thing I love doing for the community," Jones said. "We are just making memories for these kids and it keeps them out of trouble and doing something positive."
Neighbor Bob Campbell says the ice rink is not aesthetically pleasing and lowers property values, according to the Flint Journal.
"It's the location, the appearance, the aesthetic," Campbell said in the article. "There's a very strong sensibility of quality of life as it relates to aesthetics (in Fenton)."
Jones told Fenton Patch he is worried he won't be able to construct the rink as usual next winter. He disassembles the structure and stores it in his shed, before bringing out again when the weather cools. Jones places a liner on the ground, fills it with about six inches of water and puts up short walls on the rink. It costs him around $500 to construct each season. He also has insurance on the rink.
"It’s all worth it," he said. "Our children and the children in the surrounding homes look forward to this activity all year round."
In November, Jones said it was requested he take the rink down on a Homeowner's Association infraction of aesthetics, but won an appeal to keep the ice structure.
"The bottom line is we arbitrated an agreement," said Michael Piacentini, who lives in the neighborhood and serves on the association as well as the Fenton city council. "It's unfortunate it escalated to this, but we'll get through it."
Jones said he was issued a temporary land use permit for the rink this winter. Once a ordinance is drafted, it would go to the planning commission and city council will discuss the issue. It's not likely to happen this month.
"The planning commission should discuss it and pass it to city council," Piancentini said. "I don't see much support for it, but I could be wrong. It's recreation for the kids. It's pure Michigan fun."