Chase Township sawmill dispute heads to court

CHASE TWP. — A dispute between a Chase Township couple and a company that is in the process of constructing a sawmill is heading to court.

Brenda and Eugene Crane have filed a complaint in Lake County Circuit Court against Thorn Creek Lumber, of Evart, and one of its co-owners, Wilmer Yoder. Thorn Creek Lumber is in the process of constructing a sawmill on the property next to the Crane’s.

On Thursday, attorney Mickey Larson, who represents the Cranes, filled a motion for a temporary restraining order to halt the construction. However, that motion was denied and a hearing to address the matter was set for Jan. 7.

By filing the temporary restraining order, Larson hoped to gain more time to work on the case without construction continuing.

“One of the things we thought was important in this case, is that it seems like (Thorn Creek Lumber) have really upped the amount of construction and the amount of work that has been going on has seemed to really increase over the last few weeks,” Larson said.

Yoder could not be reached for comment.

Since November 2012, the Cranes have been opposed to the building of Thorn Creek Lumber’s new facility next to their home on Hawkins Road in Chase Township.

As initial construction began, Brenda noticed smoke, ash, debris and other chemical smells in the air coming from the adjacent property. At that time, Brenda made Yoder aware that it was bothering her due to her allergies, she previously told the Herald Review.

Brenda eventually spent two days in the hospital after an incident where she had trouble breathing and eventually passed out. It was determined that what she experienced was caused by smoke inhalation due to the nearby clear cutting and burning, a hospital report stated.

Following the incident, the Cranes have sought to stop the construction, claiming the noise and debris caused by the construction is damaging to their way or life.

Larson described the case as “a classic bullying situation,” in that Thorn Creek Lumber continues to progress with its sawmill plans despite the Crane’s objection. He also questions the location of the sawmill to the Crane’s property line.

“What it seems like in this case is they went out of their way to build it as close to their residence as they possibly could,” Larson said.

Through the court action, the Cranes hope to stop the sawmill’s further construction or operation. They also are seeking a yet-to-be-determined amount in damages for hospital bills, mental anguish and physical effects, Larson said.

The Jan. 7 hearing will determine whether a preliminary injunction will be granted to halt further construction will the case is pending in court, Larson added.