Three properties were among several condemned in Montcalm County last year, including a gas station, a trailer park and a family farm.
The three properties have found different fates more than a year later. Two of the stories appear to have happy endings, while one story continues to unfold.
Eyesore to convenience store
A former gas station at 15350 Howard City-Edmore Road (M-46) is finally receiving some TLC after years of neglect and decay.
The 1,680-square-foot-building sits on two acres on M-46 in Winfield Township, better known as Amble. While M-46 is a busy highway in Montcalm County, nearby gas stations to the east and to the west seem to have met consumer needs, causing the Amble business to shut down some years ago.
Jolly Roger in New York City purchased the property in 2005, but the property went into foreclosure in March 2011 due to unpaid taxes.
Montcalm County Building Department Director Scott Minard condemned the property in July 2011, citing “lack of maintenance on the building and property, broken windows and garbage and rubbish left inside.”
Paul Bazner bid $10,500 to successfully obtain the property in Montcalm County’s no minimum bid foreclosure auction on Sept. 25. Bazner could not be reached for comment.
However, Montcalm Alliance Executive Director Franz Mogdis recently informed the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners that the new owner has plans to re-open the facility as a convenience store. The new owner will receive some help from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in cleaning up the gas tanks and contamination left behind.
Signs of improvement are already obvious. The weeds are mowed, the broken glass is boarded up and a large dumpster sits in the parking lot, ready to be filled with trash from inside the building.
Gone with the wind
A notorious mobile home park has disappeared from sight, seemingly gone with the wind, but a tornado isn’t to blame. The story behind the vanished mess is a long and sordid one.
Corey Davy and Dorothy Henderline purchased the foreclosed mobile home park in 2008. The property is located in Home Township on M-46 just west of Edmore.
Davy was convicted of drunken driving third offense and went to prison in October 2009. He was paroled in January 2011, but moved back and forth between hospitals and rehabilitation facilities for a time as a condition of his parole.
In the meantime, the mobile home park swiftly deteriorated, although residents continued to live there. Minard condemned the property in June 2011. Some residents struggled to find a new place to live, but they had all moved out by August 2011.
Davy claimed he was making efforts to clean up the property, but Home Township officials disagreed. Then Davy was convicted and sentenced to one year in jail in December 2011 for slapping his wife and breaking her cell phone in front of their three children. Davy and his wife have since divorced.
In May of this year, an 8th Judicial Circuit Court order gave Davy and Henderline 30 days to clean up the property or else pay township officials to do it for them. Davy was ordered to pay $3,082.90, while Henderline was ordered to pay $2,606.03 to Home Township.
Half-demolished trailers sat vacant on the property with pieces of loose siding clattering against the walls with the wind. Pink strips of insulation were unfurled on the ground. The property was littered with shards of broken glass, children’s toys, heaps of clothes and numerous piles of miscellaneous trash.
Today, the property is unrecognizable from the previous mess. Mobile home foundations, a small shed, an empty mailbox and tall grass is all that remains.
Home Township Supervisor Calvin Beach said the township board hired Foor’s Services Inc. in Vestaburg to clean up the property after an 8th Judicial Circuit Court order placed the property on the township’s tax roll. A lien was placed against the property and the township will be reimbursed for fees.
“They did a wonderful job,” said Beach of Foor’s Services. “They had it cleaned up in about a week.”
Beach estimated the township spent at least $9,500 on clean-up efforts, not including dumpster removals and attorney fees.
“It’s finished, as far as we’re concerned,” Beach said. “I have never done this before. I’m hopefully optimistic that it will be taken care of, but time will tell. There should be a better way to take care of it, but who knows. We went through the process.
“The neighbors seem to be happy,” he added. “There were a lot of unhappy neighbors before and they had a right to be unhappy.”
Davy was released from the Montcalm County Jail earlier this month.
“We haven’t heard from him,” Beach said.
Family farm fiasco
The story behind a family farm’s downfall in Richland Township is no less complicated or messy — and no happy ending is immediately in sight.
Donald Beach and Stanley Beach took over their parents’ property at 6417 N. Crystal Road just south of M-46 in the Vestaburg area decades ago.
Donald Beach, 63, is retired from Hitachi in Edmore and is also an Army veteran, having served from 1968 to 1970 during the Vietnam War. Stanley Beach, 69, is retired from Electrolux in Greenville. The brothers say their only source of income is Social Security, plus the numerous cows which reside at the farm.
The 36-acre family farm fell into disarray over the years. Both the Montcalm County Building Department and the Mid-Michigan District Health Department condemned the property in June 2011.
The condemnation order didn’t keep the brothers away, however. Donald Beach has repeatedly been found living on the property and brought into 8th Judicial Circuit Court on those charges.
The brothers have cleaned up much of the mess on the property. Donald Beach is currently living in a travel trailer on the grounds, which he has been ordered to move by Nov. 1. But he’s digging his heels in, and good.
“We’ve got a long fight ahead of us, I’ll tell you that,” he told The Daily News. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
Richland Township Supervisor Dennis Wright can’t see how the situation can get worse. He has asked the court and Montcalm County officials to intervene on the township’s behalf.
“The township has talked with our attorney and found that we will have to adopt an ordinance before we can do anything about the condemned building and this comes as additional cost to us along with the extra time that it would take before any action could be done,” Wright stated in a letter to the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners. “Mr. Beach has just been laughing at us all for quite some time. We the township have been in and out of court many times over the past six years and we know that the county departments have been involved for quite some time now. We have all had our hands in this case now it is time that it gets resolved and both the county and the township be rid of this eyesore for good.”
Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer recommended the Board of Commissioners not take action on Wright’s request.
“If we do this, we will probably have other requests from townships to do this,” Hyzer told commissioners. “Right now we don’t see this as our best option.
“The township would like to see the county tear down the house and put the cost on the tax bill. The township could tear it down too, if they wanted.”
Commissioners placed Wright’s letter on file with no further comment on Sept. 24. Wright was disappointed.
“I was hoping our county would do it because the building department and the health department have both condemned it,” he said. “We’ve been kind of expecting them to follow their ordinances, but they’re passing it down to the local level, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. They’ve got their building codes so I don’t know why they can’t.
“I’m not very happy with it and I’m certain none of our board members are very happy with it,” he said. “We just can’t believe our county doesn’t support its own departments. What good does it do to enforce the first part, but not the second part?
“I’m not sure what more we’ll do at this point,” he said. “We’re all pretty well fed up with the situation. If we could all work together and get something resolved, it would be one thing, but when it just gets pushed back into the township’s hands, it gets expensive.”
The Richland Township Board is scheduled to have its monthly meeting this evening, where the issue will likely continue to be discussed.