Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 27, 2005

More fence, more fines

By Lynda Jensen

Yet another fence being erected in downtown Lester Prairie is the focal point of a border dispute between the owners of the Central Cafe and their neighbors.

This time, cafe owners Mary Kay Metz of Waverly and Steve Wernimont of New Germany erected a white picket fence beside the cafe, next to another fence they are constructing, the latter of which is causing them to be fined $300 per day.

The picket fence is also not in compliance with city ordinance setbacks.

“They’re just making it worse,” said Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson. “They just want to fight the city.”

Metz and Wernimont are scheduled to appear in court Monday, July 18, Carlson said.

Metz was contacted, but declined comment until after press time, saying she would submit something in writing.

The first fence, which is incomplete, was meant to enclose the empty lot area between the businesses, Metz told Herald Journal previously.

This was supposed to make a screen between bar patrons and cafe patrons.

However, in the process of erecting the first fence, the sidewalk between the Porthole and cafe was cut in half to accommodate fence posts; despite the fact that there is a two-foot setback.

The city ordinance for fencing requires a two-foot setback to other property lines, and a four-foot setback to any street or alley – which would have left the sidewalk intact.

As a result of the setback issue, the duo were ordered to move the fence back two feet from the Porthole and four feet from the alley.

The duo were ordered to do this by May 30 or risk being fined $300 or 90 days of imprisonment.

Each day begins a new offense, which means they could be fined $300 per day until they move it, Clerk Marilyn Pawelk said.

Metz and Wernimont were advised of the setbacks by the city before they commenced cutting the sidewalk and building the fence, Carlson said.

“They were told this before they put the fence up,” agreed Mayor Eric Angvall, who is also a neighbor of the Central Cafe to the east with Angvall’s Hardware.

Dave Groff, manager of the Porthole, described the sidewalk as an “unbelievable travesty,” noting that his older patrons use it to access the building.

The sidewalk runs alongside the Porthole, being a main point of access, touching the building on one side.

Metz and Wernimont may still apply for a variance if they wish to build the fence that close to the property line, but it has to follow the proper channels and be approved by the city council.

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