Center Township airstrip dispute lands in court
Robert and Cheryl Purkapile, 4934 N. Tuttle Road, have filed a complaint in court against the Town of Center Planning and Zoning Committee. The Purkapiles are seeking a revocation of the conditional-use permit the committee granted their neighbor Chris Dickert for an airstrip.
The permit allows Dickert, 4713 N. Tuttle Road, to fly ultralight and light sport aircraft from the airstrip on his land, which is zoned agricultural, according to the complaint.
Because the airstrip is for personal use and is not agricultural, town board Chairman Wayne Udulutch said a conditional-use permit was required. The planning and zoning committee granted the permit in November 2009 with several conditions.
One of the conditions says, “Complaints need to be addressed within 10 days from violation to Chris Dickert and an additional 10 days to the town chair,” according to the court filing.
Both Dickert and Udulutch said they’ve received no complaints.
The Purkapiles allege the permit was granted contrary to law because the airstrip is not used for agriculture and “the conditional use standards for A-1 land have not been met by the Town of Center ordinances.”
“The conditions set forth in the provisionally approved permit have not been complied with, and the plaintiffs are aggrieved because the airstrip users harass the plaintiffs by not respecting their airspace,” the complaint states.
The Purkapiles’ attorney, Ralph Johnson of UAW-GM Legal Services Plan, filed the complaint Aug. 30. The Purkapiles could not be reached for comment.
Dickert and the Purkapiles also are involved in a land drainage issue in the area.
Udulutch said the town followed its ordinances when it issued the permit, and the town and its attorney, Jeff Roethe, will take their paperwork to court to let the judge decide.
“We have not been harassing them,” Dickert said.
Ultralights and light sport aircrafts have been flown “probably less than 20 times” since last November, he said.
The permit states flights must be between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and flown at least 400 feet from the Purkapiles’ buildings. No more than five planes, including Dickert’s, can be kept at the site.
“We’d been flying airplanes out of here since the early ’70s—some private, some agricultural,” Dickert said. “We were flying here before the ordinances were written.”