Peninsula grain bin house will be couple’s cabin, some neighbors unhappy.

July 16, 2019

Randy and Bobbie Wood

Peninsula grain bin house will be couple’s cabin, some neighbors unhappy.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.


An example of a completed grain bin house

PERE MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP — Randy and Bobbie Wood had a dream of building a unique home on a lake. Since Randy is in the business of building grain bins, he had had a lot of people ask about converting the bins into homes. When they bought an empty lot 1 1/2 ago on the Buttersville Peninsula on the shore of Pere Marquette Lake, they thought that would be the perfect location for their grain bin house.

After spending the last year clearing and adjusting the land and obtaining the proper permits, the grain bin arrived last month. When completed, the steel structure will be two stories and 1,500 square feet with lots of windows, and a deck on a landscaped lot.

For the past 10 years, Randy has operated Woody’s Boom Trucks in Flint. Part of his business is building grain bins.

“I typically will get 10 calls a month from people asking me to build them a grain bin house like this,” he said. “I’ve even had HGTV call and ask me to do a show about building them. That’s not really something I want to do but I decided to build one for ourselves.”

The Woods said the house will be their cabin. Randy has been coming to Ludington since he was a kid. He spent a lot of time here fishing with his dad. He and Bobbie have also spent a lot of time vacationing in the area.

“This is a great area with a great artisan movement,” Bobbie said. “I think there’s a lot of potential in Ludington and we just love it.”

Not everybody loves what the Woods are doing, however. Several of their new neighbors on South Lakeshore Drive haven’t been as welcoming as Ludington is known to be.

Several of those neighbors have been expressing their concerns to township officials. Last month, several attended the township board of trustees meeting and several are expected at tonight’s planning commission meeting.

One of those neighbors is Candy Fabaz, who lives several houses to the south of the Woods.

Fabaz said she met with Township Supervisor Paul Keson and Zoning Administrator Jerry Bleau to express her opinion that the new home “detracts from the neighborhood.”

The response from the township, she said, was that the building is n compliance with the setbacks and that the Woods had obtained the necessary permits and surveys to build. Both Keson and Bleau confirmed that the Woods have followed the proper procedures and have obtained the proper permits to build the house.

Several of the residents have quoted the township’s zoning ordinance which states that “dwellings shall be aesthetically compatible in design and appearance with other residences in the vicinity.”

Keson said that the compatibility stipulation is actually non-enforceable. Several years ago, the township’s legal counsel had recommended that the township remove that language from its ordinance. Keson said the planner who was hired at the time was supposed to remove that language but apparently had neglected to do so. Recently, the township planning commission has been reviewing that language is wants it removed, because it’s not enforceable. 

“Who gets to determine what is compatible?” Keson said. “During the last township meeting I asked those in attendance if they really wanted the government to dictate what their houses will look like.”

Bleau said the house falls under R-1 zoning, which is single family residence. It also does not sit within the peninsula’s Christon Shores subdivision.

 “The strong feeling (among some residents who attended the last township board meeting) was that the township had let us down by not protecting our rights and property values,” Fabaz said. “There is no ‘architectural review board’ at present, so approval was given by the zoning board administrator for the construction of the silo structure.”

Keson said there is no evidence that the new home would decrease property values.

Fabaz said there was a concern about trailers parked on the property throughout last fall, winter and spring along with boats and kayaks and a Kawasaki UTV Mule.

“It’s a construction site,” Randy Wood said. “Plus, it’s our private property. Of course we are going to have trailers on the site. Since we are on the lake, it’s only natural that we have a boat here too.”

Randy Wood said the house obviously is currently a shell. But, when completed, it will be as unique as the neighboring garage with polka-dots on it, or many of the other non-compatible structures on the peninsula.

“I really don’t care what the neighbors think,” he said. “We would help anybody in need at any time. If you are going to live on the lake, you need to share the lake. They can pretty stop trying to cause us trouble at anytime because we are here to stay.”

The township planning commission meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight, July 16, at the township hall, located at the corner of Pere Marquette Highway and Iris Road.

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