REYNOLDS TOWNSHIP — The manager of a family-owned Howard City convenience store swore he would rebuild after a fire destroyed his business.
However, almost a year later, no progress has been made and now the building has been condemned.
The Howard City Fire Department responded to M&S Quick Stop at 9469 Reed Road, just off M-46 north of Howard City, at 6:58 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. Fire departments from Amble, Maple Valley Township and Morley were called for mutual aid.
Howard City Fire Chief Randy Heckman was unsure about the cause of the fire due to the extensive damage left behind, but he thought it might be an electrical issue.
The store has been owned by Tony Montan since 2007 and was managed by his brother, Jimmy Jabbar. The store was temporarily closed at the time of the fire due to a downturn in business because of ongoing road construction on U.S. 131, causing the northbound entrance and exit ramps to be closed to M-46. The party store was set to re-open the week after the fire.
Jabbar, a resident of Wyoming, Mich., said he was at the business around 3 p.m. the day of the fire. He said everything looked fine when he left. Some of the merchandise inside the store survived the fire, including a large amount of liquor.
“We will rebuild, I promise you this,” Jabbar told The Daily News the night of the fire.
However, at the Aug. 8 Reynolds Township Board meeting, Supervisor Daniel Fisk said he and Zoning Administrator Art Ross have tried to communicate with the owner of the property and issued him a citation, but to no avail. Fisk said the owner’s insurance company is denying the fire claim for various reasons and the owner does not have funds to clean up the property.
Montcalm County Building Department Director Scott Minard recently assessed the property and decided to condemn it.
“I found it was open in the rear and a window missing and the roof is getting in bad shape,” Minard said. “I condemned it at that point and notified the legal owners of it. It was as much for the township as this way they can begin to take the legal steps to get the property cleaned up.
Fisk said he has collected evidence and facts — including copies of the fire report, police report and a written opinion about the safety of the property — to initiate a state housing law public hearing. Fisk said Howard City Police Chief Steve DeWitt said the property has many safety concerns.
According to Fisk, the township’s zoning administrator will schedule a public hearing to discuss the property. Fisk said he will appoint an architect, engineer or licensed builder as the public hearing’s officer. Fisk added that it’s likely Reynolds Township will have to remove the building and put a tax lien on the property for expenses incurred.