Howard agrees with lawsuit’s terms

Published 3:22 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Howard Township Board agreed to terms of a lawsuit it filed On Oct. 5 against residents Joseph and Cheryl Fortuna of 28963 White St., Cassopolis, who allegedly failed to obtain a conditional use permit for operating a gravel mining business on their property in 2004.
Under the terms of the agreement accepted at the township board meeting last week, Fortuna is to file an application for a home occupation permit with the township and pay an application fee of $200. This application and a public hearing are to be placed on the agenda for the April 19 meeting of the Howard Township Planning Commission. Township Planning Commission members shall have the right to inspect the Fortuna premises prior to the hearing.
During the meantime, Fortuna notified the township that it has moved the majority of its business operations and equipment from the premises to the industrial park in the City of Dowagiac.
As part of the settlement, Fortuna may be allowed one additional street-operable heavy equipment vehicle parked on the premises overnight and used for transportation. Heavy equipment on a trailer may remain only for a maximum of three consecutive days at any one time.
Fortuna is to remove a conveyor and piping from the premises and is not allowed to bring in debris or material from their excavation business to store, burn or bury.
Fortuna must also pay two outstanding $500 citations by July 28.
Furthermore, Howard Township Zoning Administrator Carol Swanstrom witnessed evidence of a motorbike/all-terrain vehicle race track on Fortuna property without requiring a special use permit.
Back in Aug. 21, 2001, the defendants were notified by Howard Township of a nuisance created by use of the race track in violation of the zoning ordinance.
Under the agreement, however, the township shall dismiss its complaint relating to the race track or all-terrain vehicle trails.
The township and Fortuna are to bear their own costs and attorney fees. Officials at the March 21 board meeting when the agreement was reached said the township has approximately $4,000 in costs. Supervisor Michael Sutherland and Swanstrom were to execute the agreement.
If the planning commission approves and issues a home occupation permit to Fortuna according to the agreement, the Circuit Court may dismiss the complaint and close the case.