Tent garage dispute in SLT

A dispute over a temporary structure may leave lasting hard feelings — and, if the Spring Lake Township Board doesn't approve a settlement Monday night, it may end up in court.
Marie Havenga
Jul 12, 2014


Township residents Larry and Mary Probst erected a 12-by-24-foot portable hoop-style fabric garage at their Leonard Road residence in late 2011, after obtaining a permit from the township. In early 2012, the Township Board passed an ordinance prohibiting such temporary structures — but it stipulated owners would have until April 1, 2014, to remove those that had already been erected.

At that time, the Probsts hired Spring Lake attorney Edward Grafton.

In a letter to the township dated May 16, 2012, Grafton said state law allows the structure to be grandfathered in and remain for its useful life — as long as 10 years.

“However, if the township is overwhelmingly keen to have this nonconforming use discontinued, then my clients will reluctantly sell the accessory building to the township for $25,000,” Grafton noted. “The terms of sale would also include a requirement that the township provide all labor and materials needed to remove the building, and to return the lawn underneath to its previous condition.”

Grafton said $25,000 is what it would cost to build a permanent structure.

The attorney said he never received a response from township officials after sending that letter and thought all was well.

On March 4 of this year, the Probsts received a reminder letter from the township that all tent-like structures must be removed by April 1. On May 30, the Probsts received a municipal civil infraction for an “illegal tarp-covered structure” signed by Township Community Services Director Lukas Hill.

But rather than pay the $50 fine and remove the structure, Grafton said his clients decided to fight back. Grafton claims the Probsts' civil rights have been violated. He filed an "answer" on behalf of his clients, denying responsibility.

“We're going to make a major war out of this event, although the Probsts could pay the $50 and be done,” Grafton said. “I'm going to make as big a stink as I can.”

Larry Probst, who has lived in the township for more than a half-century, said the issue has been frustrating.

“I've never felt so disillusioned by local government in my life,” he said.

Read the complete story in Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



Ed nice way to spend the taxpayers money also the TWP for granting the hut in the first place.

Say no to new taxes

What's the big deal? Sounds to me like the Township is griping because they can't tax it because it's not a permanent structure. If these good people wanted to live under a
microscope they would have moved to town where everyone's house has to be one of four colors and you can't have a car that's more then 3 years old parked in the driveway.
I hope other Township residents get behind this fight and help change this ridiculous law.


Glad i moved from that area many years ago, I learned to hate it by experience




Boy, Simon and Garfunkel have seen better days.


More people should just line up file lots and lots of lawsuits against these police state townships. Then maybe they will stop passing those ordinances.


Try building a reasonably sized house around here and see how far you get. I would be quite happy living in a 300 square foot efficient house off the grid but it is illegal.

Many other reasonably sized home enthusiasts are getting around the issue by building tiny homes on flatbed trailers. The homes are much more luxurious than the giant mansions and are totally off the grid.


Tri-cities realist

Yep follow the money, the municipalities want the tax revenue, so the bigger the better.

deuce liti

Stupid Americans.





deuce liti

Your inability to form a sentence is also a joke.



deuce liti

"well i am tired of government tell a person what to do"

Our tax dollars at work folks.

You must be buzzed out of your gord, gordbzz231.



deuce liti

Please race to the voting booths and exercise your right to vote!

That'll fix any or no problems.

deuce liti

You have bested me with both eloquence and panache.

I have truly received my comeuppance.


Lol! Where are you getting the funny juice these days? It's badly needed around these parts, imho.

deuce liti

I agree! And to think so many people are cracking at the seams and armed to the teeth.


A buddy was fined and ordered to remove a hot tub spotted in his garage by a TWP. official, the garage door which was rarely open was when a TWP official was driving by and photographed it from the road. He had to pay a fine and remove the hot tub...that seemed very intrusive to me.


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