2009-12-12 / Top News

City Wins Lawsuit, Does Not Act on Moratorium Appeal

By Karen Gould

A lower-court ruling that a foundation for a new house be filled and covered has been upheld by the Michigan Court of Appeals, ending a 10-year battle by the City of Mackinac Island to get the owners either to complete the house or put the lot back to its natural state.

The decision, issued by the court October 22, was discussed by the city at its Wednesday, November 18, council meeting and requires Len and Sue Webster to restore their property in Hubbard's Annex, which the city claims has become an eyesore and public safety hazard.

Also at the meeting, Council referred to committee a request to assume the liability on a cement base for a wooden stairway to the East Bluff, and took no action on letters from Save Our Island toward efforts to stop demolition of McNally Cottage, or the group's $10,000 pledge to help defend the city in any lawsuit against a proposed city moratorium.

For years the city has contended the Websters' house foundation has been a public nuisance. Following the appellate court ruling, the Websters have two options to remedy the matter, said Tom Evashevski, the city attorney. Based on the circuit court's decision, the Websters are required to remove approximately feet from the top of the foundation so nothing will be above the ground, fill the foundation with dirt, and cover it with grass, if they want to try to save it for future use. They also could remove the foundation and fill in the hole.

"Whichever option they choose is supposed to end up looking the same," said Mr. Evashevski; "flat and covered with grass. That's basically it."

Also, during the appeal process, the city required the Websters to file a $30,000 cash bond with the county to be used to restore the land, said Mr. Evashevski, in the event the Websters do not.

Save Our Island

Council received a letter from attorney Eric Starck, representing the Save Our Island group, encouraging the city to place a moratorium on building demolition to prevent McNally Cottage from being torn down. The group also asked Council to discuss the issue "to keep the citizens of Mackinac Island fully informed and to help deter the dissemination of inaccurate information with regard to the McNally Cottage and the Historic Ordinance."

Council filed the correspondence, but did not act upon or discuss it.

In October, developer Ira Green received a permit to relocate or demolish the Main Street house. A three-story hotel and retail complex is planned to replace the it.

Also not discussed at Wednesday's council meeting were letters sent to the mayor and to Mr. Hart, who chairs the Historic Study Committee. Copies of the letters were also given to The St. Ignace News.

The Save Our Island group, said Mr. Starck in the letter to Mayor Doud, sought to demonstrate its commitment to preserving McNally Cottage by pledging $10,000 to assist the city in the defense of any lawsuit filed by the owners of the property as a result of a moratorium being enacted by the council.

In other business, Council approved the disposal of 1,000 shares of Stonecliffe Entertainment stock belonging to Jane Bacon and issuance of 1,000 shares to Karen Pulte, a requirement so that the Michigan State Liquor Control Commission can transfer a Resort Class C liquor license with dance permit on the premises. The perfunctory resolution relates to a change in ownership of the hotel.

The city will purchase 12 new lamppost globes. Six have been damaged in recent windstorms. Each lamp costs about $135. The city last purchased them in 2006 and paid $112 each.

Ice rescue equipment will be ordered for $4,107 using funds donated to the city.

Alderman Jason St. Onge said he has concerns about loud music this summer coming from the outdoor tent at the Inn at Stonecliffe. The music stops around 10 p.m., he said, but this was the first year he has heard it at his residence about one-quarter of a mile away. He also said it appears an addition was added to the tent this year. Building inspector Dennis Dombroski said he would look into it, and Mayor Doud said the city will monitor it next season and, if necessary, discuss the matter with management.

A temporary motor vehicle permit was issued to Mission Point Resort for the delivery of propane.

A temporary motor vehicle permit was issued for Built on Demand Gutter Solutions of Marion to install gutters on St. Martin's Place on Market Street.

A temporary motor permit will be issued to Michigan Gutters of Traverse City to install gutters on the Millennium Wing at Grand Hotel pending the business obtaining an Island business license.

Two off-Island business licenses were approved for L & H Utility Contractors of Kingsford and J. T. Underground of East Tawas.

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