Letter to the Editor: Courtland Township’s lack of zoning enforcement may be hazardous to your neighborhood’s serenity

Let me explain to all residents of Courtland Township, a planning commission meeting on September 18 is considering something Plainfield Township doesn’t allow, something that Cannon Township expressly prohibits and something Ada township recently looked at and decided against… the commercial use of residential property to allow for short term rentals (rentals less than 30 days or more). Translated, that means you can have a Motel 6 (like) business 20 feet from your business 20 feet from your property (like we have had for the last 18 months) and even though it is not allowed under the current zoning ordinances and investors are targeting our lake property as investment vehicles, the township is considering rewarding unlawful use of residential property under the illusion that somehow they ccan regulate the operators into compliance (something the township supervisor has already conced4ed the township doesn’t have the resources to do). Note: recently, Airbnb agreed to start collecting hotel/motel taxes from their STR operators in Kent County (like the one next door) dispelling the notion they are not commercial enterprises.

The surrounding townships have dealt with the issues of STRs head-on enforcing existing ordinances and avoiding the situation we have on Big Brower Lake where lack of transparency, honesty and enforcement have resulted in animus between neighbors I haven’t seen in 22 years living here. We expect the township to enforce their ordinances. We expect township officials and commissioners not to let their personal interests get in the way of doing what is right for all township residents. Recent research indicates a prominent township employee operates a STR on Meyers Lake and that at least one planning commission member operated a STR up north. Why should their vested interests be prioritized over what is best for all of us? I have invited all township officials to visit our residence (none of them have) to see that six guys (with six vehicles) passing through or a bridal party of 13 are not compatible with residential use of property. As my property value erodes, does this mean I get a discount for my taxes? Can I invoice the township for the extra liability insurance I am forced to have in case something happens to a child that wonders onto our dock? Disgraceful government in action! Call or send a letter to the zoning administrator and let her know how you feel about this injustice.

Stephen Cilek