West Fargo man forced to move bikes
Keith Schoon can still operate a bicycle repair shop out of his West Fargo home garage, but he needs to make some changes, city officials said. Since June 2008, the 65-year-old retiree has repaired hundreds of bicycles that he either sells at a s...
Keith Schoon can still operate a bicycle repair shop out of his West Fargo home garage, but he needs to make some changes, city officials said.
Since June 2008, the 65-year-old retiree has repaired hundreds of bicycles that he either sells at a small profit or donates free of charge to neighborhood children - an act some West Fargo residents have praised as "a service to the community."
This week, though, Schoon feared he might be shut down by city officials after he received a letter informing him he was violating West Fargo ordinances governing home-operated businesses.
Senior Planner Steve Zimmer said he has received about seven complaints in recent months from residents who took issue with the dozens of bicycles stored outside Schoon's home at 402 2nd St. E.
Schoon and Zimmer met this week and came to an agreement: Schoon can still run his repair shop, but the bicycles either need to be stored indoors or not visible from the street.
"The intent wasn't ever to shut him down," Zimmer said. "It was just that we needed him to come into compliance with the outdoor storage ordinances."
Schoon said he's glad he can still have his shop, but it'll be an inconvenience to move all the bikes.
Neighbors and friends are helping store some of the more than 100 bicycles Schoon estimated he has waiting to be repaired. About 25 are already spoken for by waiting customers.
Despite the amicable result, the mere possibility that Keith's Bicycle Repair might be shut down drew criticism from some of Schoon's patrons who learned of the city's letter.
"He's fixed three of our bikes and has never charged us," said resident Sarah Johnson. "I definitely think it's a service, not a business."
"A lot of my customers are very upset about it," said Schoon. "They can't understand why they gotta go after the little guy."
He said he donated about 80 bicycles to local children last year and sold about 130 others. He said he makes about $15 profit on each bike he sells.
"Nobody can make a business off what I make and call it a business," he said, adding that he's never received complaints about his repair shop.
Zimmer said he and many others in West Fargo have known about Schoon's shop for a while and only notified him of the violations because of the complaints.
"We agree as a city that that's a good thing to have people like him that are helping people less fortunate and giving them something that they may not be able to afford or to do on their own," Zimmer said. "But at the same time, we do have ordinances in the city for the reason that we don't want it to negatively affect anybody else while he's doing that."
Schoon said he runs the shop in the summertime just for the fun of it.
"I love doing it for the kids," Schoon said. "Two things that I really love is working on bikes and making kids happy."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541