Allegan Township resident stands on what he's calling "lawn art," on display on his property at 30th Street and 118th Avenue.These mowers are not for sale, but they are on display.Santa was added to the display Thursday, June 19.

'Lawn art' displayed after township rules local home business can't show wares

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Perhaps in a bid to poke fun at a recent township ruling, Allegan Township resident Gary Clark says the latest display in his yard is “lawn art.”

Clark has run a repair business out of his home at the corner of 118th Avenue and 30th Street for more than three decades. He recently attempted to appeal a May township planning commission decision that restricted where he could display items for sale in his yard.

That appeal was pre-empted by a zoning board of appeals clarification of the township ordinance that governs home occupations. The ZBA’s June 17 decision said the ordinance did not allow any openly visible displays of products for businesses such as his.

The ZBA then voted to render his appeal moot, saying the planning commission acted incorrectly in granting Clark a special use to display items in the first place.

Clark’s “yard art” consists of several lawnmowers in disrepair hanging from a boat launch Clark had previously displayed for sale.

Clark said Thursday, June 19, he had hung the mowers up Wednesday; Thursday, he topped the display off with a riding mower and Christmas-decoration Santa.

“People have been stopping and laughing like crazy, seeing the humor in it,” Clark said. “A state cop and sheriff’s deputy have both passed by and given a thumbs-up.”

He said the support he’s received in the last month has been overwhelming.

“So many people are stopping by, it’s hard to get much work done,” he said.

Further up the lawn are several mowers he continues to have on display for sale. Clark said no one had yet stopped by to cite him for his apparent violation of the ordinance.

With no further appeals possible through the township, he said he is waiting for the minutes of the June 17 ZBA meeting to be approved before he decides whether or not to take the matter to court.

“This country was built on people able to run their business. It just comes down to them taking away rights, and that ain’t right,” Clark said.

Standard procedure in enforcing ordinance violations, as previously described to The Allegan County News by township supervisor Steve Schulz, involves contacting property owners by mail or in person and simply asking them to comply. Schulz is also the township’s zoning administrator.

“Sometimes, we’ve sent several letters,” he said, before citations are written.

Citations would be municipal civil infractions with fines ranging from $75 to $500 for a first offense; a fourth offense would incur the maximum $500 fine.

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