Saugatuck Officials Meet In Closed Session Over Lakeshore Lodging Building Lawsuit
Another property on Lake Street continues to be a thorn in the side of Saugatuck City officials.
In their lawsuit against the city filed with the Allegan County Circuit Court in March 2013, the owners of the Lakeshore Lodging building at 735 Lake St. want to overturn the Saugatuck Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) determination, made February 2013, that the Lakeshore’s commercial use of the structure has exceeded what is lawfully permissible.
Last week, the Saugatuck City Council held a closed session to discuss the matter, but took no action once the meeting was open to the public.
However, city officials have indicated that the city attorney is working to arrive at a solution and will do so within the next few months.
The building and its uses has been the source of ongoing nuisance for some neighbors, namely Deanna and Dori DePree who have complained to the city in recent years about increased traffic and noise.
Ronald Kronemeyer and Marilyn Kronemeyer who own the 735 Lake St. building that houses the vacation home rental agency, were present at last week’s meeting, but declined to comment to the Observer Newspapers about the case.
On Dec. 6, 2012, Planning Director Michael Clark ruled Lakeshore was under violation of the zoning ordinance because the business was using the building beyond the legal zoning parameters set by the ZBA in 2003.
It was that same year the ZBA rejected a former occupant’s (a real estate firm) request to expand operations from 75 percent to 100 precent of the building on the parcel, which is zoned R-2 residential.
When the Kronemeyers bought it in 1992, the east side of the upstairs was used as a real estate office and the two, floor-level garages housed the business’ accessory space while the west side was residential.
The ZBA denied the real estate office’s request to expand its commercial operations to include the entire building by modifying the four garages into office space as well as increased parking space.
Commercial uses were no longer allowed in the district and the applicant did not meet requirements for a variance from the 2002 amended code which reduced non-conforming and non-residential uses, city officials cited.
Subsequently, Lakeshore Lodging became the new tenant, occupying the upper floor for offices as well as the four garages at the lower level.
Lakeshore specializes in vacation-rental marketing and management and also offers in-house maintenance and cleaning staffs, 24-hour emergency support and accidental damages and insurance for each reservation.
The Kronemeyers argue, via their March 2013 lawsuit, that the commercial use of their building is a prior legal non-conforming use and contend the ZBA’s determination to only allow them to use 75 percent—and not 100 percent as they would like—of the building to carry out their operating purposes “was not based on a proper procedure.”
The city’s position was articulated by Clark in a February 20, 2013 letter:
“Since the Zoning Board of Appeals found the activates (sic) at 735 Lake Street (Lakeshore Lodging) to be beyond the scope of those of the real estate office as noted in the 2003 Zoning Board of Appeals request, the use is still recognized as unlawful at this time.”
A different building on Lake Street - 790 Lake St. - has also represented continued legal wrangling.
For more than five years lifetime partners John Porzondek and James Serman have repeatedly lost state and court decisions in their fight to place an awning/umbrella over a second-story porch of their home.
The most recent episode of that long legal struggle involved Allegan County District Court Judge Joseph Skocelas’ ruling on Jan. 28 that Porzondek and Serman’s apparatus was in violation of an earlier court order.
Skocelas ordered them to take the fixture down or face fines and/or jail time.
They have done so.