STANTON — Donald Beach’s neighbors have had enough.
Carolyn Tubbs and Mary Vusich appeared at Monday’s Montcalm County Board of Commissioners meeting to see if there is anything the county government can do to help them.
Tubbs lives next door to Donald Beach in Richland Township. Her family has lived next door to the Beach family since 1951. Donald Beach and his brother, 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 is retired from Hitachi in Edmore while Stanley Beach 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. But the condemnation order didn’t keep the brothers away. Donald Beach has repeatedly been found living on the property and brought into 8th Judicial Circuit Court on those charges.
Donald Beach was ordered to move out of a travel trailer on the grounds by Nov. 1, 2012. Tubbs says he’s still there.
“He is staying there every night,” Tubbs told commissioners. “He’s got lights in the trailer. He has a TV antennae up. He is there every night. There is no running water, no sewer system, nothing.”
Tubbs said the Richland Township Board recently lowered her property taxes — at her request — by $10,500, due to the decreased value of her property due to living next door to Donald Beach. Tubbs installed a privacy fence between her yard and his yard, but she said his cows damaged it.
“My property is worthless,” Tubbs said. “I would like to see this property demolished. I am not a happy customer living there anymore. I can’t enjoy my home or my yard or my property. It’s just unlivable. But I don’t have a choice. This is my home, my yard and my property.”
Board of Commissioners Chairman Patrick Q. Carr questioned Montcalm County Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Russell who attended Monday’s meeting on behalf of the issue.
“He hasn’t done anything to clean the property up that I can see over the years,” said Russell of Donald Beach. “We’ve been dealing with him since 2011. We’ve pretty much done everything we can do as the sheriff’s department. We’ve written him a couple of tickets over the years. We actually went out at one point and made a custodial arrest (for violating a construction code). It’s my understanding that he paid the fines and then continued to go about his business.”
Mary Vusich, who lives near Tubbs and the Beach brothers, said the problems date back to at least 1998. She said as a result, Tubbs’ property “isn’t worth a plug nickel” and “from all appearances, the Beach brothers have made a total mockery of the county of Montcalm and township of Richland.”
Carr said he understood the concerns and frustrations voiced by Tubbs and Vusich. Commissioners unanimously voted to refer the issue to their Law Enforcement & Courts Committee.
“I’m really becoming concerned over the health issue that this is to me because of the mess,” Tubbs said.
Richland Township officials have previously tried to get the county government involved, but to no avail. In September 2012, Supervisor Dennis Wright asked commissioners to tear down Beach’s house and put the cost on the tax bill. However, commissioners chose to place Wright’s written request on file and took no further action, noting that township officials could tear down the building themselves if they wanted.