On May 9, Lou Kovach received official word that his request for splits of the former Coy Kendall greenhouse property had been denied by the Van Buren Township Parcel Board.
He had been told ahead of time that the parcel board members would deny his request.
He said he now must prepare a case for the township Zoning Board of Appeals, but he is going to take special care in preparing that case, because if it is denied and he has to go on to Circuit Court, the only evidence he can use at court is what was presented to the ZBA.
Kovach and two of his neighbors on Bemis Road have refused to give the township easements for the 1,400-foot water line planned to remove dead-end lines in that area and create a loop for water circulation.
Kovach, Steve Memering, and Eric and Kellie Long, neighbors whose properties are in a line along Bemis, all have refused to give the water line easement needed in support of Kovach’s project.
The properties currently have water service from Sumpter Township, across the street.
Kovach said he had hoped to use the easement request from the township as a negotiating tool for his parcel splits. But the township doesn’t want to negotiate.
Kovach said the splits had been drawn out by former VBT Planning and Economic Development Director Bryce Kelley, but now the township won’t approve the splits.
Kelley left VBT in 2008 after a new administration was elected. Now Kelley is Development Officer at Wayne County EDGE.
People throughout the community, especially those who knew the late Homer Morris who had the greenhouse, have shown support for Kovach’s problem with the township.
“Homer was a very nice guy and would do anything for anybody,” Kovach said. “After he got sick, he could never muster enough effort and tenacity that this project would take to finish.
“Look at the effort, resources and community support it has taken me to just get this far and it still isn’t finished.”
Kovach recalled that when he was working with Homer Morris and Bryce Kelley, the idea was if the un-used greenhouse, which was becoming an eyesore, was torn down, the township would get the property cut into parcels so they could be sold for residential lots.
“My goal is simple,” Kovach said. “It is to make the township complete its promise as I was asked to do.”
On March 20, D.V.M. Utilities of Sterling Heights got the low bid for three water line projects in VBT for $467,147.25. A 10% contingency was approved to be used at the recommendation and approval of the DPW Director to address any unforeseen conditions.
On Sunday, around 9 p.m., a truck carrying water pipes for the first project along Bemis Road, stopped at the greenhouse property and Jane Kovach happened to be driving by. She talked to the driver and convinced him he shouldn’t unload the pipes on her son’s property, which he had planned to do, she said, adding there will be lots of problems if he trespasses.
The trucker called his dispatch and was told to go to Walmart and park overnight. On Monday morning he was back and waited for directions from D.V.M.
Just before 9 a.m. D.V.M. president Dan DiLegge drove up and parked on the right of way and challenged Independent editor Rosemary Otzman with, “What are you doing on my work site?”
She replied that she was standing in the county right of way, but then Kovach invited her across his surveyed line onto his private property.
After some conferring between the trucker and DiLegge and the arrival of another truck with a large loader on it, the water pipes were taken to Martinsville Road where the process of unloading began.
Kovach stood by to make sure they didn’t cross his surveyed lines onto private property.
As the first pipes were being moved to the ground, they were set down about a foot from Kovach’s line, when DiLegge motioned to the driver to lift them up again and go closer to the line. The pipes came too close and knocked Kovach’s stake back, which caused Kovach to start yelling.
The pipes were moved back, the driver came down to apologize to Kovach and take all the blame, while Kovach accused DiLegge of taunting him.
The pipes eventually were unloaded and later Monday a group of more than a dozen friends and supporters gathered at the site to hold signs prepared by Kovach.
On Tuesday afternoon, a surveyor checking Kovach’s property lines was questioned by Kovach. Kovach said the surveyor told him he was told to GPS Kovach’s stakes marking his property line to see if they were correct.
Kovach’s line was determined with a laser and optical method and the surveyor told him the line was perfect and the laser method is more accurate than GPS.
Kovach said a representative from Wade Trim told him that without the private easements, the project will have to be completely re-designed, which could cost from $100,000 to $200,000 more than expected.
Kovach has a website for people to keep up with the ongoing drama: www.joinhomershope.com .