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Fenton Neighbors Face Off Over Ice Rink

Dispute over ice structure could result in city ordinance.

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."

stephanie pytlowanyj February 14, 2012 at 07:12 PM
To my understanding pond hockey is where professional hockey first started. It's a great sport! Which reminds me, Go 'Wings. Hoping they make it 21 consecutive wins at home!
Melissa February 14, 2012 at 10:21 PM
John, thank you for taking the time and energy to improve your neighborhood. I believe it is an asset to your community. We also built and maintain an outdoor rink for friends and family. We are fortunate, we own 50 acres so no association to deal with. I really hope the vote goes your way and you are able to contribute this generous act to your neighborhood in the future.
Ted February 15, 2012 at 04:15 PM
So if my neighbor puts up a basketball goal or a pool or a tennis court and I do not like it, I should complain to the government and they will make it illegal for anyone in the city to have those things? Talk about Pandora's box. And as many people have pointed out, what will the kids do when we make all these things illegal? My message to City Council is this: you represent the city of Fenton and all it's people and it's best interests. Are you listening to the people or are you listening to the squeaky wheel? Are you serving the cities best interest or trying to pacify he who whines the loudest? We have placed our trust in you through the great amercian election process and we expect you to represent the will of the people. After reading the comments on this article, the will of the people seems clear. I understand due process, but it seems you are wasting valuable tax payer resources on a initiative that is clearly not supported and not in the best interest of the city.
Sean Rosekrans February 19, 2012 at 02:18 PM
We have a neighbor with the same problem. He complains about everything. I agree with everything you say. I wish Mr. Jones the best.
Sean Rosekrans February 19, 2012 at 02:21 PM
It seems to be a rout in favor of Mr. Jones. Mr. Campbell you have lost this issue go on to something.

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