The Township Board voted 7-0 on July 14 to approve settlement language that will allow Larry and Mary Probst to keep their portable garage until 2017, even though the board outlawed such structures in 2012.
Although he said he would prefer to be able to have a structure in place permanently, Larry Probst said he doesn't regret pursuing the issue, even though paying a $50 fine would have been cheaper than the legal bills he racked up fighting the township.
“I still feel I'm right 100 percent,” he said. “The way society and things work today, whether you're right or wrong, you end up wrong.”
The Probsts 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 stipulated then that owners would have until April 1, 2014, to remove those that had already been erected.
At that time, the Probsts hired local attorney Edward Grafton. In a letter to the township dated May 16, 2012, Grafton said state law allowed the structure to be grandfathered 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 wrote.
Grafton said $25,000 is what it would cost to build a permanent structure. He 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 from the township for an “illegal tarp-covered structure.”
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