Oran Rankin and Sara Rathbun, the husband-wife owners of Village Baker, 617 E. Savidge St. in Spring Lake, said they have hired a civil engineer and an attorney to help sort out the situation.
Unless a document surfaces with proof of an easement, officials at the G.A. Richards factory said they will permanently close off the entrance to the bakery from Parkview Avenue, the east-west service drive that runs between Shoreline Vision and the bakery.
G.A. Richards, 701 E. Savidge, owns the land that contains the service drive, the bakery's eastern entrance/exit onto the service drive, as well as the parking spaces on the bakery's east side.
When Rathbun and her husband purchased the property two years ago, they were told a previous owner had a written easement agreement in place with G.A. Richards for the parking spaces and the access drive.
“I do not remember who I talked to at Richards, but I know we had a written agreement with them, but we never had it recorded,” prior owner, Duff Duer, said.
Duer said he does not have a copy of the agreement because he recently relocated and shredded all of his old documents.
Rankin said he and Rathbun signed paperwork at a Muskegon law firm for a perpetual easement when they purchased the site. They recently learned they were the only ones to sign that document — G.A. Richards officials never did.
Rathbun said factory owner John Boll notified her about two weeks ago that he would be closing the access.
“It just came out of nowhere,” Rathbun said.
Rathbun said Boll offered a $200 a month lease for the parking spaces, but she said that ingress/egress use is out of the question. The proposed parking space agreement would only be month-to-month. Rathbun said she fears the factory owner could cancel or hike the price at any time on such temporary lease terms.
“It's a private drive and he can pick who he wants to deal with," Rathbun said. "He said he's going to dig out my parking spaces, put a berm in there and cut us off from that access.”
Rathbun said Boll gave no reasoning for the timing of the access shutoff, other than “liability.”
Calls from the Tribune to Boll have not been returned and G.A. Richards President Kevin Mesler declined to comment.
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