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Published: Wednesday, 5/28/2008

Erie Twp. seeks bids to remove buildings

The 1 1/2-acre eroded island, about four miles northeast of the mouth of the Ottawa River, is dissected by the Ohio-Michigan line. The 1 1/2-acre eroded island, about four miles northeast of the mouth of the Ottawa River, is dissected by the Ohio-Michigan line.

ERIE - A long-delayed project to develop a bed and breakfast operation on Turtle Island appears to finally be dead.

Erie Township trustees are taking bids from contractors to raze or dismantle cabins and storage sheds that were built on the tiny windswept Lake Erie island without governmental approval.

Contractors have until June 3 to submit to the township bids that would also include removing the debris from the island.

The 1 1/2-acre badly eroded island, which is about four miles northeast of the mouth of the Ottawa River, is dissected by the Ohio-Michigan line.

Only the ruins of a lighthouse dating to 1866 were on Turtle Island when a trust directed by Keith Fifer of Springfield Township began the building project in early 2002.

Three cabins and a pair of storage sheds were constructed before a Monroe County Circuit judge issued a stop order.

The court interceded in the project after Mr. Fifer and Chris Bodi, his partner in the development, failed to secure building permits and provide county officials with a plan to treat sewage generated from the business.

Despite the action being taken by township officials to clear the buildings, the developers are hoping to win a reprieve and use the structures for the development of a primitive camp site on the island.

Mr. Bodi said he met last week with township Supervisor Bill Frey to discuss the possibility of such a development and what it would take to bring the existing structures into compliance with township zoning.

"Our plans at this point would be to do a campground," Mr. Bodi said.

"But, this depends on what the township wants to do with these buildings."

The trust agreed to buy the island under land contract in $500 monthly installments from Jim Neumann of Luna Pier in 2002 for $57,500, according to court records.

Judge Mark Braunlich of Monroe County District Court issued an order on May 19 that would turn over ownership of the island to the trust upon the payment of $29,185 to Mr. Neumann for the balance of the money owed on the land contract.

Mr. Bodi said the trust plans to pay the debt if a title search shows that there are no liens on the property.

"The money is there. It is a matter of getting the deed," he said.

Judge Braunlich gave the trust 90 days to complete the sale.

The cost to take down the cabins and sheds and barge the debris off the island will be assessed on the property tax bill of the owner.

If the tax bill is not paid, ownership of the property would revert to the state.

However, Mr. Frey said demolition and removal of the buildings will hinge on the response of contractors to the township's advertisement.

He said there is the possibility that the endeavor could prove to be too costly to undertake and the cabins and shed would remain.

"The township will have to pay for it. But the cost could be prohibitive. We would pay to tear it down unless the cost got too exorbitant," he said.

Mike Demski, township building inspector, said the developer's proposal to develop the island for primitive camping would require township approval.

He said plans to treat sewage would need to be submitted to the county health department and the campground would have to be reviewed by the township planning commission.

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