It's one man against the City. But, it appears the City of Thief River Falls has found itself on the wrong side of public opinion, regarding a zoning dispute.
Dan Benoit (Ben-Wah) built a gazebo at the Cedar Lodge Motel he's restoring. Now, the City says he has to tear it down by March 31st.
In 2008 Dan and Melissa Benoit purchased the Cedar Lodge Motel and started restoring it.
Dan says when he started building this gazebo, the city engineer stopped by and told him to move the poles 3 feet back from the street, so he did.
Dan Benoit, Cedar Lodge Motel: "And now they're saying I need to give them 10 more feet to fit the code."
Reporter: "After it's done?"
Benoit: "After it's done. Yeah."
The City says Benoit has to tear the gazebo down by March 31st because it's in violation of zoning regulations. Despite the fact there are other obvious violations nearby… sheds and fences that are too close to the street.
While I was shooting video out here, one Thief River Falls man, who declined to be on camera stopped by to say, why doesn't the City leave those folks alone? They're doing a great job of fixing up what was a run down motel.
In fact, an online petition to save the gazebo already has the support of over 600 people. Down at City Hall, no one was willing to appear on camera. However, Mar Borseth says he's just been put in the position to deal with the controversy. He now says they might be able to work out some type of variance to the current zoning regulation.
Dan Benoit: "We've already had people willing to donate to our legal team…ha. So, we'll see. I don't think we want to go that far with it. We want to meet somewhere in the middle with the City. Hopefully, we can come up with a compromise."
We'll keep you posted as to what happens.