Moises Ochoa wanted a place to store his motorcycle, his daughter’s moped, his tools and toys for his grandchildren. His small house at 944 Troost Ave. doesn’t have a basement or a garage. He doesn’t have a backyard, either. His home sits at the back of the lot hugging the alley. So the union carpenter began building a storage shed the only place he could-in his front yard.
He went to work hammering and sawing and was nearly finished with his 176-square-foot shed when he got the bad news. Forest Park’s zoning code doesn’t allow storage sheds to be plopped down in the front yard. Ochoa would later claim that he was unaware of the rules and that he didn’t know that both a permit and a variance would be needed.
Now the shed will have to come down after the village council voted last week to deny Ochoa’s request after the fact. The council was acting on a unanimous recommendation by the zoning board.
“We just want to keep it,” Robin Ochoa, Moises’ wife, said. “He put so much work into it.”
Accessory structures, such as sheds, are only allowed in backyards, and while village council members and ZBA members sympathized with Ochoa’s need for some storage space, they were not willing to bend the rules.
“That shed is certainly an eyesore,” Commissioner Martin Tellalian said.
Ochoa has until Feb. 15 to demolish the 12-foot tall shed in which he has sunk nearly $1,000. He could be fined up to $750 a day, according to Michael Boyle, the village’s Director of Public Health and Safety, if the order isn’t followed. However, Boyle said the building department may extend that deadline if the weather makes the work difficult.
“We are not completely unreasonable people,” Boyle said. “It took them some time to put this thing up; it’s going to take some time to take it down. If the weather is bad we’ll work with them and give them extensions.”
Boyle also said he would work with the Ochoas to see if there wasn’t some other way for them to get a little storage space without running afoul of zoning regulations.
“We will try and see if we can look at the property with them and see what they might be able to do by building some small structures that don’t require a zoning variance.”
But that will be difficult because the Ochoa’s house sits only 13-feet away from the alley and, since they don’t have a garage, that’s where the Ochoas park their cars.
“Our job here is to make sure that the rules and regulations enacted by this village council and previous village councils are upheld,” Boyle said.