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Roberts discusses drawing the line for property disputes

"How can something be up that is not legal?' Marge Wolske, a Roberts resident, asked board members at the Village of Roberts meeting on Monday, Sept. 13.

She was referring to a fence erected by Peter Tharp at 105 W. Ash St. on June 31. He was elected to the board in the April election. The fence apparently infringes on a neighbor's property line. According to the village board, Tharp applied for a fence permit, but it did not get approved yet since the property lines are in dispute.

"We won't know if the fence is illegal until we get the property line in place," said Village President Willard Moeri.

Eric Moberg, who lives between Tharps and Wolske, asked the board how the fence could be legal if he didn't have an approved permit.

Katy Kapaun, board member, likened it to the issue the village has with having a new business submit a business plan to the board before opening to the public.

"Does it happen? Yes, it does. Are we happy about it? Of course not," Moeri said. "Should we have them close down and then submit a plan before reopening?"

Moeri said that the property lines have been an issue in that section of the village since the 1980s.

In fact, there are nine homeowners in the area of Ash Street and Tower Street that have become involved in this latest dispute. The Village of Roberts makes 10, with their property at 106 E. Maple St.

According to a letter from Northland Surveying dated Aug. 25, 2010, the cost for surveying the area of Ash Street and Tower Street for 10 property owners agreeing to the project would be $440 each, with a down payment of $220. If nine property owners agree, the cost would be $488.89 per owner; if eight agree, the cost is $550 per owner, etc.

At the time of the meeting, Wolske said only four owners have sent in their $440 checks. Mike Gunderson, another resident in attendance, said he would be mailing his check in the morning - bringing the total number to five property owners participating.

The board members were in general agreement that this surveying needed to be done, if only to get this issue resolved for any future developments. However, they were hesitant on how much money to contribute.

"If it's only five or less (owners participating), it will up the price quite a bit," Moeri said. "Any disagreeing parties will have additional costs fall to them if they want to pursue."

Wolske said where the property lines stand now she would lose six feet, which she said she had been paying taxes on for more than 30 years.

"I've talked to three lawyers," Wolske told the board members. "If I lose six feet, the village will have to pay me back; it can get very messy."

The board said any possible litigation should not be discussed at the present time, but rather the issue at hand.

The board ultimately decided to approve participating in the Northland Survey proposal, not to exceed $880.

In other news:

• A resident asked about getting sidewalks put in on Division Street. Moeri said that has been an issue for more than 15 years. They are looking at ways to make that a reality, but it's a complicated process as it infringes on some residents' front lawns.

• Police Chief Dan Burgess said his department is trying to figure out ways to empower residents, particularly in light of the opposition to the proposed halfway house in Warren Township.