Dan Wehmer - Publisher's Pen

Dan Wehmer - Publisher's Pen

Last week’s newspaper had a headline that read, “Square storage stopped.”

That’s accurate.

Buildings on the downtown square can’t be leased or rented for storage. Doing so is against city ordinances.

However, it appears the building owner on the southeast corner of the square who allegedly was leasing his building for storage, Dave Brooks, isn’t guilty of the practice.

Quite the contrary, Brooks told me last Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after the Oct. 20 Citizen hit the streets.

“If I was guilty of this, I would understand it, but this isn’t what is happening,” Brooks said. “Yes, I’m leasing the building. I’m also hoping to sell (the building) to this guy. And he isn’t using it for storage. He’s leasing it with the intention of bringing a new business there.”

For clarification, “this guy” is Seamus O’Donovan.

O’Donovan owns the new ice-cream shop on the west side of the square that goes by his surname.

It’s a neat shop. The ice cream is tasty. Traffic has been very brisk since the shop opened on the same week as the Seymour Apple Festival.

Two doors down, he’s leased Brooks’ building, which is known to most in Seymour as the former White Department Store. To be technical, it’s not White’s Department Store.

Bob and Charlie White were very clear about the store’s name. It was the White Department Store, selling everything in its heyday from farm-fresh eggs to wagons.

In recent years, the building was the home base for Seymour entrepreneur Wayne Gilliam, his protégé, Clay Chandler, and most recently, Brooks’ business, D&B Furniture.

Now it’s leased by O’Donovan.

Not for storage.

Brooks and O’Donovan visited the Citizen office last Wednesday, prior to a trip to Seymour City Hall, where they talked with City Administrator Hillary Gintz.

In each visit, both explained Brooks’ building isn’t being used for storage.

“If that were the case, it’s a very expensive storage unit,” O’Donovan said with a smile.

The future plan for the building, he noted, was to open a woodworking shop — a set up that’s currently housed at the city’s west edge and slowly being moved into town.

Before year’s end, O’Donovan said his goal is to have the wood shop up and running.

After both men spoke with Gintz, she agreed that Brooks and O’Donovan weren’t in violation of city codes, thus the 10-day notice for items in the building to be removed was dropped.

We’ll be looking forward to seeing what springs up in the old White building.

Per O’Donovan, it’s wood related. Clocks were mentioned. Brooks isn’t happy that he heard about his building being in violation of city codes in the newspaper, and I understand that. Perhaps in the future, the city needs to consider an in-person delivery method of such notices versus a certified, mailed letter.

However, I’ll also note that when utilities for O’Donovan were turned on for the building, city office workers asked what was going in there, and they were given no specific answer and were told “storage.”

A misunderstanding?

It appears so.

Fact is, Seymour’s code enforcement is complaint driven.

The city isn’t large enough to hire a person to conduct daily checks of municipal ordinances.

And regarding Brooks’ building, there was a complaint registered to city hall that it was being used for storage.

When the building’s utilities were turned on, that belief was further reinforced when the word storage was used and only vague answers were given as to its future use.

Brooks told me late Monday afternoon that he is worried O’Donovan won’t feel welcome in Seymour.

I can’t speak for the community, but I can speak as a business owner and elected city alderman.

He and his family are very welcome here.

Anytime a new business comes to Seymour, especially on the square, it’s a good thing.

A vacancy is filled.

A need is served.

From the city’s perspective, a position was created to meet this need, as Terry Penner has done a marvelous job as our new community-development director.

The city’s goal isn’t to harass anyone.

Quite the opposite.

Above that, fellow business owners love seeing new businesses open their doors.

Residents love having new shopping options in their hometown.

When O’Donovan’s second business on the city square opens, I’m sure he’ll have many customers, just as he’s had with the ice-cream shop.

Perhaps the real storyline here is that yet another business is coming to the square’s west side, joining three others in just the past few months.

Quite an accomplishment for a city that the U.S. Census Bureau says is losing population.

Dan Wehmer is the Citizen’s editor, publisher and owner. He can be reached at 417-935-2257 or via e-mail at citizen@webstercountycitizen.com.

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