Dilapidated Marathon Sign Pole Prompts Discussion At Saugatuck Township Meeting
The old, dilapidated Marathon gas sign off of I-196 at exit 36 continues to be a thorn in the side of Saugatuck Township officials, as their counterparts from neighboring municipalities, Saugatuck and Douglas, as well as area residents complain about its unsightliness and speak of it as “an eyesore” not representative of a tourist destination.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the Saugatuck Township Board announced it will continue to pursue different ways—including legal means—to get Thomas Fleming, who runs Fleming Brothers Oil Co. and owns the sign and the property where it is located, to take it down.
The Marathon gas station was removed more than 20 years ago, but a dilapidated-looking carcass of a twin-pole tower that was its sign remains. It is located on the north side of 129th Avenue.
The township has for many years attempted various strategies to solve the issue—including changing the zoning ordinance, sending communications to the landowner—but have not gotten Fleming to respond.
“If you (Fleming) insist in doing nothing, the township board could consider going to court, not to take you to court, but seek some type of judgment (a circuit court opinion) from a judge” Saugatuck Township Manager Aaron Sheridan told his colleagues, summarizing the message from Zoning Administrator Steve Kushion in his April 14 letter to Fleming.
However, some officials want to proceed with caution and warned against litigation that could last a long time and be expensive for township residents.
“They are wealthy people and they have access to good lawyers. They probably want to keep it there for a reason,” said Saugatuck Township Supervisor Bill Wester, adding that Fleming wants the sign grandfathered to sell the property as such.
Nevertheless, Sheridan expressed confidence in Kushion and expressed assurance the issue could come to a resolution.
“It’s not that hard to get a circuit court opinion to tell him to take the sign down or keep it (with conditions),” said Sheridan.
In other Saugatuck Township business, township board members last week said they are holding discussions with the Allegan County Road Commission to review options regarding the narrow and pitted roadways of Dugout Road and Riverside Drive.
“As a resident, I’d like the road at least to be up to standards of the fire department. Even though I am a tree hugger, I realize some trees may have to go,” said Saugatuck Township Roy McIlwaine, who lives on Dugout Road.