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August 14, 2014
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Furniture-making veteran testifies at Lake of the Pines hearing

A veteran who makes furniture for military families in his garage at Lake of the Pines testified Wednesday in an appeal hearing before the homeowners association board.

Dennis Kocher, who is appealing an order from the association that he shut down his home-based furniture-making operation, said he testified for about 50 minutes, including answering questions from board members, and presented two supporting witnesses.

A neighbor across the street, who was identified as the complainant against Kocher, also testified before the board for about 20 minutes, Kocher said.

“They said they will let me know of their decision within 10 days,” Kocher said.

No media were allowed to attend the hearing.

Kocher, a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, claims the work is a hobby and that he donates the items to military families at Beale Air Force Base. He said he makes no profit from selling any items to friends or family at his occasional garage sales, but instead recycles the proceeds back into buying supplies.

Scores of Nevada County residents were outraged by Kocher’s story when The Union’s account was posted on Facebook and in the newspaper.

Readers said the homeowners association appeared to be too heavy-handed and that Kocher should instead be praised for helping others in the military.

Offers of support — including free work space and woodworking materials — also have come in to The Union offices.

Jeff Orcutt, who lives two doors down from Kocher, said Kocher’s furniture-making has “never been a problem” and that he has never been bothered by any noise or fumes in the four years he has lived in Lake of the Pines, a gated community in southern Nevada County. He said, in fact, that Kocher was working in his garage the day Orcutt looked at the home with his real estate agent.

“It didn’t stop me from buying the house,” he said.

Orcutt, one of 12 people who Kocher said wrote letters of support, said he normally works during the day when Kocher might be making furniture in his garage. However, he said even when he’s worked at home and sat out on the deck, “I haven’t heard anything or smelled anything.”

The association has claimed that Kocher was actually operating a business, in violation of regulations at Lake of the Pines, and was disrupting neighbors with noise and odors.

“Mr. Kocher operated his woodworking business outside of his garage in his front yard,” said Lake of the Pines association attorney Mary Catherine Garcia, of Angius & Terry in Roseville, in a statement published in The Union. “This directly resulted in Mr. Kocher unreasonably disturbing his neighbors with excessively loud power furniture-building machinery and noxious fumes from varnishes.”

Garcia could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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The Union Updated Aug 14, 2014 01:01AM Published Aug 15, 2014 07:09PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.