Saugatuck Township Initiates Lawsuit Against Fleming & Dilapidated Marathon Gas Sign
Saugatuck Township is taking to court the property owner who owns the old dilapidated Marathon gas sign on Blue Star Highway at the entrance to the City of the Village of Douglas.
Douglas city officials, at Monday’s council meeting, announced they would respond in the affirmative to township officials’ request for support in that effort, confirming what they having been discussing recently about the sign.
“It’s no use to anybody—its roadside trash,” said Douglas City Council Member Greg Harvath.
“I think it’s nice to have that happen now (township taking legal action against Thomas Fleming, owner of the sign and Fleming Brothers Oil Co.), but it’s a shame when you have such a prominent location in that kind of a state.”
The site is located within the township’s boundaries, but marks the entrance to Douglas, on the north side of 129th Avenue off of I-196 at exit 36.
The sign is now just a carcass of a twin pole tower.
Douglas officials also are taking issue with the road concrete barricades stored on the property, and the lawsuit is expected to deal with that issue as well.
The Marathon gas station was removed more than 20 years ago, but the carcass remains and some tri-community municipal leaders and residents alike agree the area could be aesthetically improved to give a good, representative image of the area.
“The sign has lost its legal confirming status (because the top part of the structure came down and only the twin pole tower remains); once it’s deemed non-conforming, it has to come down,” said Saugatuck Township Zoning Administrator Steve Kushion about the township’s legal position in it’s filing before the Allegan County District Court.
“You cannot replace or rebuild it unless they comply with the 10-foot height requirement (not to exceed 10 feet),” noted Kushion.
As for the other issue in the case, Kushion said, “It’s a use violation.
“Warehousing those concrete barricades is not an acceptable use in the C-3 zoning district (corridor commercial mixed use),” added Kushion.
The case will go to a pre-trial hearing very soon, said officials.
“(The Douglas letter of support) will show that adjoining jurisdictions are also impacted by the affects of that site,” said Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere.
Fleming officials could not be reached for comment.