2018-01-03 / Front Page

Mayfield Twp. ordinance violations end up in court

Judge orders sides to ‘work some magic’
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — A Mayfield Township zoning ordinance dispute that ended up in court appears headed toward resolution after a Lapeer County judge asked the sides to work it out in the name of commerce.

The dispute involves property at 3710, 3720, and 3730 N. Lapeer Rd. that is owned by Mike Nolan.

Mayfield Township Zoning Official Gyrome Edwards issued two tickets to Nolan on July 21.

One ticket alleged Nolan “did or did allow the use of a building which in not in accordance with all provisions of the zoning ordinance.”

The second ticket alleges Nolan “did or did allow the use or occupancy of a building regulated by the code without compliance with the code.”

Michael Gildner, attorney for Mayfield Township, did not return a call to The County Press last week.

John Miller, Nolan’s attorney, said Nolan “has owned the commercial buildings on Suuppi Drive at M-24 for several years.”

“Mr. Nolan has been cited for renting the building out to local small business owners without an occupancy permit,” Miller said. “The court proceedings were adjourned so that Mr. Nolan could resolve the discrepancy with the Mayfield Township Planning Commission.”

The business was not identified by Miller or during a Dec. 14 hearing in front of Lapeer County District Court Judge Laura Cheger Barnard.

“The defendant owns some property that is being used for a purpose that has not yet had the permit from the township to do so,” Barnard said in summarizing the situation.

Gilder confirmed “that is certainly the township’s perspective.”

Barnard went on to explain that Nolan “doesn’t want to evict the current tenants because once the permits are sought and once the inspections take place, and the permit fees are paid and the inspection fees are paid, if all goes well this tenant will continue to utilize the property in Mayfield Township.”

Miller called it a “fair assessment of the case” in court.

“It sounds like, to me, like there’s been a little failure to communicate or something got dropped in the meanwhile between getting the property and getting the tenants in without the township’s okie dokee.”

Gildner said it wasn’t necessarily a failure to communicate.

“I think in this case Mr. Nolan knew the rules and quite frankly, just didn’t follow them,” Gildner said.

According to state records, a company called Mid- Michigan Trailer Sales Inc. was formed in 1990 and registered to Nolan before being dissolved in 1997.

Barnard said if Nolan didn’t follow the rules, “then shame on him.”

“As we’re talking businesses, permits, inspections, safety… that’s what I’m worried about,” she said. “I want to make sure that that’s what happens”

Barnard said she did have the option of continuing with a hearing on Dec. 14, but noting that “deciding one way or the other…it’s not going to be a good decision for anybody.”

“If I decide in the township’s behalf then that makes an innocent tenant, or not-so-innocent tenant… (be) in a bad situation,” she said. If I decide in favor of the tenant, then that seems to be the possibility of safety, inspections, and permits…all of the stuff that’s operating without what is perceived to be the approval of the township.”

Barnard adjourned the hearing to give Nolan time “to make sure the property is capable of coming into compliance for safety’s sake.”

“That’s what I’d like to see,” she said. “I want to see business continuing in our townships and in our cities, but I want it to be safe business and I want it to be through the appropriate process.”

Barnard gave Nolan 45 days to resolve the situation.

Further, she said the current unidentified tenants could remain operating during the timeframe.

“But if this doesn’t come into the proper compliance and the proper permits I’m going to very strongly consider an eviction,” Barnard said. “And I don’t think that’s what the defendant wants and in the long run, I don’t think that’s what the township wants because if this is a viable business you want to encourage the business.”

“But it’s got to be safe and it’s got to be what’s allowed by the land use rules and by the permits that are required,” she added.

The hearing was adjourned until March 1 and Barnard urged the lawyers for both sides “to work some magic.”

Subsequent to the Dec. 14 hearing, the Mayfield Township Planning Commission published notice (on Dec. 24) of public hearing to be held at 7 p.m., Jan. 10, for the purpose of considering a special land use application for the site.

“Petitioner is seeking Special Land Use approve for the purpose of service truck storage and service work with outdoor storage or display…” part of the notice reads.

Miller said his client is looking forward to working with township officials.

“The Planning Commission will hopefully resolve the zoning and building use technicalities that have persisted for several years,” Miller said.

“Mr. Nolan has invested a great deal of money in building improvements over the years and has been an upstanding business owner in Mayfield Township for many years,” he continued. “We look forward to working with Mayfield Township to resolve the matter outside of court.”

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