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Business Splits Neighborhood Neighbor Angry Cda Council Let Tree-Trimming Service Stay

Ida Hawkins long has had mixed feelings about the growing tree-trimming business in her neighbor’s yard.

Now she’s stuck with it. And lots of neighborhood animosity.

Last Tuesday, the Coeur d’Alene City Council made the rare move of granting Jacobson’s Tree Service the right to do business out of Dan Jacobson’s North 23rd Street home, although it is in a fairly restrictive residential zone.

Hawkins said she fears that means there never will be an end to the truck traffic, the wood splitter turning trees into firewood, and other headaches.

“I feel violated by this whole thing,” said Hawkins, who has lived in her red brick home for 40 years and has been told by a Realtor that the tree business will cost her in resale value.

“Is there a city councilman who would want to live next door to this?” asks her son, Richard.

Jacobson also is bitter, saying his business is quiet and passive. “I don’t believe a thing that comes out of her mouth,” he said Friday. “I feel kind of victimized by this whole ordeal.”

It all started quietly enough, a decade ago, when the Jacobsons purchased their blue house on a 1.6-acre lot. “It’s a nice piece of property for this kind of business,” said Tom Jacobson, Dan’s father and the man who started the tree-trimming business.

But the business grew and grew. Hawkins didn’t say much because “I know how hard it is to get started,” she said. “What can you say to a young family?”

Last summer, a city inspector discovered the business while checking out a complaint on another neighbor. In October, Jacobson was told he had to move his operation to a commercial zone.

Instead, he applied for a home business permit. City staff twice rejected his application, noting it violated several of the rules for home-based businesses.

So Jacobson appealed to the council for the right to stay, and won.

Steven Whittaker, who moved from the neighborhood in November 1994, after 19 years on the block, is surprised the council allowed a business in a residential zone. “Once you allow it, it gets worse.”

He confirms Hawkins’ reports of noisy wood-splitters operating in spring and summer. “It’s almost like having a logging company next to you,” Whittaker said.

Other neighbors aren’t upset by the tree service. “We’ve had no problems whatsoever,” said Laura Jorgensen, who lives across the street.

“We want to remain neutral - we like both of the families.”

Jacobson, however, is angry about the fuss Hawkins created. “I can see (the complaints) when we were splitting wood out here, but she never did say a thing about it,” he said.

Whittaker didn’t complain either, Jacobson noted.

The wood splitting was never more than an hour or two a day, he said, but Hawkins exaggerates it to all day. And Jacobson says he never really sold firewood - one of Hawkins’ complaints - it was more “kind of like a garage sale operation.”

What about his Yellow Pages ad which mentions firewood? “I quit selling firewood last fall,” Jacobson said, “and there won’t be a Yellow Pages ad next year.”

Hawkins also complained about a 32-by-40-foot building Jacobson built on the property last fall, supposedly to store a motor home and a boat. The city building department says Jacobson indicated the structure was for personal use when he took out a building permit.

Friday, except for a boat, the building is filled with tree company equipment.

Jacobson says he has every intention of buying a motor home and storing it here. Meanwhile, he doesn’t want to waste the space. Why didn’t he indicate this commercial use on the building permit? Jacobson shrugs.

As for renting commercial space - Hawkins’ suggested remedy - Jacobson said he doesn’t “have the $100,000.” And by having his trucks and equipment at home, he avoids the burglaries that plague his brother-in-law.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Tags: government