Salted with Sharks

Stop Work, Evacuation Order Issued on Putney’s Elberta School Apartments

In Agriculture, Breaking, Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron on April 25, 2013 at 11:31 am

By Emily Votruba

April 25, 2013—This morning a stop work and evacuation order was issued to Loy Putney by Zoning Administrator Ken Bonney for the proposed Elberta School Apartments. The families who moved in over the weekend of April 20 need to move out by Monday, April 29, Bonney said. A statement from Village attorney Edgar Roy is forthcoming.

Mr. Putney, reached by phone this morning, had heard about the stop work order but had not yet seen it. He said he was waiting for advice from his attorney.

At the hearing on April 16 to review Putney’s special use permit application and site plan, the Village Planning Commission requested information from Putney, all required in the zoning ordinance, for his proposed Elberta School Apartments. After the meeting Edgar Roy said he had sent a list of at least some of the questions to Putney in advance of the hearing but that Putney had not taken the opportunity to come prepared with answers.

At the hearing, Mr. Roy said this was the first time since the January 4 court ruling by Judge Batzer that it became clear that Putney intended to create agricultural worker housing rather than standard apartments. Judge Batzer had upheld the Village’s decision to disallow worker housing as a regular use in that zone. Agricultural labor housing is regulated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and not by local building codes. It can only be used for seasonal workers and is not open to the general public. It is also assessed at a much lower rate for taxes, according to Benzie County assessor Marvin Blackford.

Tuesday’s IPR story included a photo of a smiling group of people newly moved in to the building and identified them as the Torres family.

“That’s no surprise. It’s the way it goes,” said Putney, referring to the stop work and evacuation orders. Mr. Putney wasn’t sure of the names of the people who had already moved in but said there were two families. “I’m going to have to look at what [the Village] sent me.  I don’t know much at this point. I’ve got 5,000 peach trees to get pruned here in the next month.”



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