ROCKFORD, MICH. - A Rockford man has been ordered to remove a play structure, landscape features and plants the state says are encroaching on the White Pine Trail.
Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock issued an order giving Paul J. Golembiewski six months to remove the offending items from the trails’ right-of-way.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources filed a lawsuit against Golembiewski in May to force him to remove a play structure and landscaping it said created a hazard to trail users.
It was the latest salvo in an on-going battle between the landscape architect and the DNR over what the state says is encroachment of its right-of-way along the linear state park between Comstock Park and Cadillac.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere, but I was hoping to get a few more years,’’ Golembiewski said Wednesday from his Rockford home. “It was all a set-up by the DNR.’’
Under the order signed Sept. 9, Golembiewski has until early March to remove the offending items.
“It all started off with my kids needing a playground,’’ said Golembiewski, a father of four who moved into his home on Cahill Drive NE in 1978 long before there was a White Pine Trail.
He says he got permission from the railroad company to build a playground that is now used by his five grandchildren.
The state saw it differently. Even if he got verbal permission, it was only temporary. It sent letters and staff to the Rockford man’s home urging him to remove the obstructions.
The nuisance lawsuit filed in mid-May in Kent County Circuit Court was a last resort, the state Attorney General’s office said.
It asked that the playground and landscaping projects be declared a nuisance and be removed.
Golembiewski wasn’t the only one targeted. Other neighbors received notices and have since removed property from the state right-of-way, the lawsuit contends.
“Unlike Mr. Golembiewski’s neighbors, who voluntarily removed offending structures once the DNR notified them of their trespasses, Mr. Golembiewski has repeatedly refused to voluntarily comply with the DNR’s efforts to clear its right-of-way along the trail,’’ the state said.
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