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Embattled Barkleys Seek Recall of Township Trustees

 

BY FRED GRAY NEWS-REVIEW STAFF WRITER

http://www.petoskeynews.com/articles/2003/10/10/news/local_regional/news02.txt


HORTON BAY - Lyle Barkley appeared before the Bay Township Board of Trustees and a largely supportive audience of some 32 area residents Thursday night, but chose not to speak about his dispute over a township zoning violation.

Instead, he turned over his position on the agenda of the township's monthly meeting to his daughter, Kim, who announced that the Barkley family had begun the process of recalling three of the township's five trustees - board chair Larry Moeschke and members Chris Monk and David Simmons.

Lyle Barkley and FamilyShe also expressed her "vote of no confidence" in the three and asked the board to remove Randy Frykberg as the township's zoning administrator, who had issued and later withdrew zoning permits for three additions to the two existing units on the Barkleys' 2.6 acres in Bay Township.

Board members Moeschke, Monk, Larry Bergmann and David Smith listened but did not speak to the Barkley issue. Simmons, the township clerk as well as a board member, and Frykberg, were excused and did not attend the meeting.

Frykberg has said that township zoning does not permit the additional manufactured housing units that the Barkleys moved to their property, nor does it permit expansion of a pre-existing non-conforming structure without appealing to the zoning board of appeals. He said the size of the structure of one of the units applied was much larger than the application indicated.

Barkley has said that Frykberg knew of his intentions all along and that he and his family had sought to clear up any misunderstandings with Frykberg and other county and township officials.

The Barkley zoning dispute has been in the national spotlight over the past several weeks after Barkley vowed to resist with force of arms any attempt by law enforcement officers to enforce a court order to remove housing units from his property.

Militia groups from across the country, claiming Barkley's constitutional rights had been threatened, have pledged to come to the Barkleys' aid with arms if necessary.

Township officials maintain there are no constitutional issues involved and the threat of force is an attempt to achieve an end denied by the Charlevoix County District Court, which ordered the housing units removed. The case is on appeal.

Thursday night's meeting at the township hall was filled with Barkley supporters, who applauded speakers that included former Bay Township supervisor Bob Taylor, Alanson pastor and intermediary Norman Olson, and Detroit contractor Dan Guilbeault, who has helped the Barkleys clean up their property.

Olson, dressed in his usual camouflage fatigues and cap as a senior adviser to the Michigan Militia Corps Wolverines, appealed to the board to work with the Barkleys in resolving the issue peacefully.

"Charlevoix County does not need the kind of advertising it's been getting," he said. "I would like to see the county remain the beautiful place it is, and not become a dark spot on the map."

Taylor, the other speaker on the agenda, spoke for about 20 minutes on the Barkley issue, the conduct of board meetings, the zoning ordinance and Frykberg's role as township zoning administrator.

He said the zoning ordinance was "seriously flawed" because it allowed local officials "to invade the private rights of residents and violate their constitutional right to due process."

He said the ordinance had not been approved by township voters despite efforts to bring it to a referendum in 1997.

Taylor said Frykberg had "serious conflicts of interests" in his capacity as zoning administrator for four townships and as chair of the county board of commissioners, and presented two Michigan attorney general opinions on similar cases.

Monk said Taylor's documents would be attached to the minutes of the night's meeting.

Several speakers read out their letters and guest commentaries to the News-Review.

Mike Webster, supervisor of adjoining Melrose Township and chair of the county's chapter of the Michigan Township Association, appealed to the board to exercise good judgment in the Barkley case.

Jack Turner, chair of the township's zoning board of appeals but not representing the ZBA, which has not discussed the case, said he felt the Barkley affair had been overblown and unfairly reported by the local media.

"I don't care how he uses his property, as long as the legal process is followed," Turner said.

The remark brought responses, and prolonged applause, from Barkley supporters, who said what was needed to resolve the dispute was people "who do care."

Turner said later that what he intended to convey was that, "I'd like people to make their decision based on the facts and not on the emotional aspects of the case. We don't need the militia to figure this out."

The audience included five members of a Charlevoix High School government class studying the political process. One of them, Brittany Menyn, said she lived in a trailer home and was critical of the township's action against the Barkleys.

Following Circuit Judge Richard Pajtas' decision on the appeal, expected in a month or two, all parties to the dispute have agreed to reconvene to discuss their next moves.

Fred Gray can be contacted at 439-9374, or fgray@petoskeynews.com.

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