2017-09-13 / News

Building issues have residents, township at odds

810-452-2616 •

ALMONT TWP. — There were sparks, but not much action Monday night as two homeowners and a planning commissioner complained loudly about the township’s handling of developments in the township.

“I’ve been sitting here for seven months trying to get you to do your job and you haven’t done it,” Stephan Haynes shouted at Township Supervisor Paul Bowman. Haynes has been coming to township board meetings for months complaining about Steve Francis’ expansion of his business, Country Smoke House.

Francis, who is also a member of the township’s planning commission, said he’s done everything the township has asked him to do. In April Francis convinced township officials turn over inspection of his planned 31,600-square-foot addition to his Van Dyke Road business to the State of Michigan.

Township officials approved his site plan for a three-phase addition to Country Smoke House which he opened in 1991 in 2007, but he’s been at odds with the building department ever since. Last spring Joe Israel, the township building official, told board members he was waiting for drawings of work completed in 2013 of the first phase of the facility’s expansion.

Jim Cummings, a licensed architect who was hired in June as an alternate building inspector, recently told township officials that Francis had met the requirements for Phase I of the project, but Israel said there are still “open questions” that prevent him a certificate of occupancy needed to move on to the next two phases.

“I’m not comfortable issuing a CofO (certificate of occupancy),” he told township trustees.

Without the certificate of occupancy in hand, township officials opted not to send state building officials a letter asking them to take over inspections of Phase II and III of Francis’ project. Instead, they decided to wait until Cummings returns from vacation later this week and then hold a special meeting with him and other township building and zoning officials, the township’s building committee, Francis and the neighbors.

Michael Cicchini, who lives behind Southern Truck on Van Dyke Road, complained the business planted screening trees too close to the property line and he and his wife have been trying unsuccessfully to get the township to respond for three months. “My biggest concern,” he said, is my wife’s been in numerous times. Not even an email, not even the courtesy of a response from anybody and I don’t understand.”

“I’m very concerned about the way issues are being handled in the township, Planning Commissioner Bryan Zender told trustees. “Zoning enforcement is ridiculous. Certain individuals are doing whatever they like.”

He complained that while Lumberjack Shack, a Crawford Road business recently acquired an adjacent building on Van Dyke Road and began selling cars and lawnmowers from what had been a party store, it lacks an approved site plan for the property.

Zender said the township supervisor shouldn’t be signing off on license applications since he’s not familiar with the state law requirements for dealer licenses.

Zender complained that while some businesses are opening without required site plans that include paved parking areas, bathrooms and other required amenities, the supervisor told him he could file a formal complaint.

Bowman, as is usual in public time comments, did not respond to the complaints.

Streeter asked Cicchini for his contact information, promising to address his concerns.

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