Saugatuck Homeowners Once Again Violating Law Regarding Awning Issue, Says City
Saugatuck City officials have once again sent a violation notice to the homeowners at 790 Lake Street over what the city says is a “reinstallation of an unapproved awning.”
The house is located within the historic district of the city and officials are telling owners and life partners John Porzondek, a former Saugatuck City Council member, and James Serman to remove the structure from the front porch of the second floor by November 29.
“Failure to do so will result in further enforcement action, including but not limited to the issuance of a civil infraction ticket or court action,” states the November 14 letter signed by Saugatuck Zoning Administrator Mike Clark and addressed to Porzondek.
The owners stand resolute, once again denying there is any violation and denying the structure is actually an awning, claiming that it is freestanding and saying the manufacture’s own descriptive language of the structure calls it an umbrella.
Porzondek was unavailable for comment on Tuesday and Wednesday while Serman said he wanted to limit his comments.
The exterior modifications of the couple’s second floor porch has been an ongoing source of tension between the homeowners and city officials.
The Allegan County district and circuit courts, two years ago, both upheld the local Historic Commission’s determination that their awning (the structure they had erected at that time) was illegal and had to come down.
Serman said he commended Historic District Commission Vice Chair Peggy Boyce because, unlike some of her collegues, she understood the homeowners’ situation and did not feel they were in violation concerning that awning.
“Peggy Boyce was the one commissioner that stood up; she got it. She saw the awning as something that was a temporary thing which is what awnings are made to be. Mike Clark (the zoning administrator) doesn’t see it that way.”
Before this latest notification, the homeowners were asked in September to remove a shed sail they had erected to cover their porch.
The homeowners claimed they were illegally and unfairly being singled out.
And before that, earlier in that month, the homeowners filed a model ethics complaint with the city, accusing Clark of engaging in “gross negligence in his duties” and “falsifying records.”
In his November 14 letter, Clark cites city ordinances that speak to the requirements of homeowner’s needing to file a permit application and getting approval for that permit for modifications affecting the exterior of homes within the historic district.
“Upon further investigation, it was noted that no valid permits are on record for such modification to the structure,” wrote Clark.
“During a staff inspection of 790 Lake Street on November 6, 2013, and again on November 14, 2013, it was discovered that a green awning was present on the second floor of the house and is not freestanding.”