CADILLAC — The operator of a popular mud bog in Cherry Grove Township will need a special use permit to continue holding his events, the Circuit Court has ruled.
“We are pleased with the outcome,‘ said Ronald Redick, attorney for Cherry Grove Township, with which the court sided. Redick had no further comments.
Chad Edwards has been holding charitable mud bogs called Mud Madness at his Cherry Grove Township property several times a year for the past five years. But in March of this year, the Wexford Joint Planning Commission, which conducts zoning enforcement for Cherry Grove Township, issued a citation because Edwards had never received a special land use permit to hold mud bogging events. The permit costs $1,070. Edwards objected to the citation and the case went to District Court, where the court sided with the township. Edwards appealed to the Circuit Court, and Judge William Fagerman heard the case on Nov. 1.
In an opinion dated Dec. 6, Fagerman sided with the township, affirming the lower court’s opinion.
One of Edwards and his legal team’s arguments was that he was, in layman’s terms, “grandfathered in.‘ He’d been using his property for mud-bogging under older zoning ordinances before the Joint Planning Commission was adopted and re-zoned his property.
In court in November, lawyers and Judge Fagerman discussed the size of the mud-bog, parking and other activities. Under the old zoning ordinance, Edwards’s property would have fallen under a “Forest-Recreational‘ designation. If the mud-bog activities took up less than five acres, it was allowed under the old zoning ordinance.
But both judges said Edwards used more than five acres, with parking taking up five to 10 acres and the bog itself taking up 3.5 acres.
“By adding the 3.5 acres for the mud bog, the prior use cannot be grandfathered because it was non-conforming,‘ Judge Fagerman wrote.
“I can only say that this is the decision that we anticipated based upon the facts presented in this case,‘ said Bob Hall, the administrator of the joint planning commission. “It is also an important decision that reinforces the fact that all citizens’ property rights will be protected.‘
Edwards did not immediately return a request for comment on whether he would apply for a special use permit, which could allow him to operate mud-bogging events under the existing zoning ordinance.
In November, the township’s lawyer argued that the township wasn’t trying to stop mud-bogging at Edwards’s property.
“We’re not shutting him down,‘ Redick said. “This is a case where it’s approvable, an eligible use under the current zoning ordinance.‘
He just has to get the right permits, Redick said.