Town vs. Homeowner. Town loses.

"[Worth Township, Mich] All a homeowner wanted was to remodel his cottage. Thirteen years later, the work remains undone. But everything else in this woody lakefront resort in the Thumb has turned upside down. A series of mistakes by local officials fighting the renovation led to a nearly $1 million judgment against the township last year. Lacking adequate insurance, it levied a special assessment against its 3,800 residents last month."
http://detnews.com/article/20110813/METRO/108130383/Cottage-remodel-undoes-Worth-Township#ixzz1V5x8WCiV
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There seem to be 2 diametrically opposed views here. Homeowner "just wanted to renovate cottage" and then sell it (sometimes called flipping). Delipidated etc, but very near Lake Huron. Had just bought the property, but had a faulty survey, and more bad luck, delaying renovation. But, hear this, the building was too close to the property line, as was found after construction had started. Now what to do?? Apparently, savvy homeowner went against not so smart small town officials, and won. And who gained the most? Probably the lawyers ...
--
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Han
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Sounds likd the cottage was very old and was probably built in an era when it did not violate any ordinances. Around these parts, anyone who owns such a structure, regardless of when they bought it, is allowed to renovated it, as long as they are not changing the existing footprint, square footage, etc. So, I doubt the town was in the right. The court agreed.
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I only casually read it. It was my impression that the footprint was going to be expanded. I did with my home, and that was built as recent as 1929. So, the town likely was in the right, but handled it totally wrong. I think most of the award was because the owner showed malice on the part of the town officials.
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On 8/15/2011 6:44 AM, Han wrote:

it doesn't say anything about expansion. homeowner claimed it was 8.5' from property line, but was really 3'. was granted a permit without verification, which wasn't discovered until 5 years later. that's when it all started.
in my area, as long as you leave 1 wall intact, you can raze the entire rest of the building and expand the footprint to whatever you want, as long as it meets zoning codes.
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This is kind of in my field and I know of exactly no building department that checks to see if a survey is accurate. They rely on the engineer's seal. If the engineer signs off on it, then it's good as far as they are concerned. Same with the structure - if the engineer says it'll stand and signs off on it, the building department won't run the numbers to see if the engineer made a mistake in his calculations.
That being said, there's no way in hell that the owner, being a zoning pro consultant, didn't realize the survey was off by 5'. He knew. He took advantage of it, and it's paid off handsomely.

Right, and even if you're not planning on adding on. If the existing house doesn't meet zoning setbacks and such, keeping that one wall allows you to keep the structure where it is. That's a really big deal with a lot of waterfront properties.
R
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On 8/15/2011 1:59 PM, RicodJour wrote:

Yeah, there is no way he didn't know, and even if he didn't, it's his property, it's his responsibility TO know. It's still sweet to see the vindictive fools running the town get mowed down.

In my area, if you own something built before the zoning changed, you can't do anything to it, no remodeling or anything, at least that's what they tell you, not many listen to them, or even ask:-) A friend of mine had an old garage, he ripped it down and built a green house on the slab, looked great, then he learned he was not allowed to do that. Nothing ever happened, and he eventually sold the house, and I think the greenhouse was still there.
--
Jack
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How's that work, unless he's a surveyor? -----
- gpsman
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The guy's a zoning consultant and has eyeballs. The difference wasn't 30' and 35', it was something like 3' and 8'. From some feet away a carpenter might mistake a 2x10 for a 2x12, but they wouldn't mistake it for a 2x4.
R
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On 8/15/2011 12:15 PM, chaniarts wrote: ...

But, of course, that was the whole point here--it did _not_ meet zoning setback reqm'ts...
Undoubtedly more than enough blame to go 'round as to initial fault here; it would seem unlikely the fella' if he really was an experienced builder was totally guileless in the initial application; in such a constricted location it would seem highly unlikely to me a boundary could be misplaced by the distance w/o being aware of it.
Whether just kept quiet on a favorable outcome or was party to deliberate deception is unclear and unknowable from the information provided; it seems the reason for prevailing in the end has less to do w/ the actual facts of the location than in that the jurisdiction was apparently faulty in their application of the rules...
There's been a situation in the County here of such retroactive modification of ground rules for a developer in continually racheting up the demands after the initial permitting w/ new commissioners demanding more than was initially required. That's simply wrong, too, altho it hasn't (yet, anyway) come to the extent as this case of actual lawsuit; the builder just gave up here.
--



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On 8/15/2011 10:59 AM, dpb wrote:

actually no. existing structures, which if it has 1 wall, it is, are grandfathered in as a nonconforming legal lot. the NEW parts, if any, can't be any closer, but if it already exists in place, the non-conforming parts don't have to be removed.

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On 8/15/2011 2:20 PM, chaniarts wrote:

That may be so in your location; that wasn't what I was commenting on.
I was pointing out that that grandfathering may not be so in the jurisdiction in question. W/O the actual ordinances, it's unknowable. Apparently at least the town thought it wasn't; again w/o the actual court ruling it's not possible from the article to know the grounds on which the plaintiff won.
--
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On Mon, 15 Aug 2011 10:15:24 -0700, chaniarts

Might be height. Looks like he added up. Maybe zoned for single-story. But I don't know. Looks like the township had a case if they followed the book and didn't pile on the guy. On that "height" subject I've seen neighborhoods where they tore down nice ranches or bungalows and put up McMansion monstrosities. Near my dentist's office in Park Ridge, IL there's a nice older home with McMansions on both sides. Totally blocked out his light on the south and north. It's his house that looks "normal" there. Makes me happy that can't happen to me, just because of dumb luck.. Flippers probably. Good chance a lot of the McMansions are in foreclosure, but that's a guess. I see quite a few that look unoccupied.
--Vic
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http://detnews.com/article/20110813/METRO/108130383/Cottage-remodel-undoes-Worth-Township#ixzz1V5x8WCiV
If it is like most township governments, it is run by a little dictator that thinks he is the ruler of the entire kingdom. Maybe he got what he deserved. No talk, no compromise, just follow the book.
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On 8/15/2011 11:58 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

asses.
Yeah, I read that article. If I was that guy, I'd be scared to move into the place- some of the neighbors may take the court settlement pricing them out of their vacation cottages personally. Stuff like this is a good example of why MI needs to do away with all these itty-bitty governments, and just do all the housekeeping stuff at the county level. Not like the county seat is an overnight horseback ride away, any more. And since all the units of gov in this state are basically broke, it would cut the overhead a bunch.
--
aem sends...

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