Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Update- Chicago Scouting Council vs Blue Lake Township

An eyewitness account of the December 7 court date
Scouters protest the sale of Camp Owasippe
Scouts Rally "United we stand to save Owasippe - intact"
photo courtesy Scarlet Sassafras
Friday afternoon, December 7, was the 10th and final court date in Muskegon County Circuit Court presided by the Honorable William Marietti. It went on for approximately three hours. This trial is reportedly one of the longest court cases in Muskegon County circuit court history. It is being watched with great interest by local citizens of North Muskegon County as well as by many other small municipalities and townships within Michigan and surrounding states.

25 people were in court supporting the defense of Blue Lake Township while there was only one person supporting the prosecution by Chicago Area Council (CAC) Boy Scouts of America, Jim Stone, their Scout Executive. Representing CAC Scouters and other Friends of Owasippe were Ron Kulak, Steve and Irene Kantorski, Bob Halston, Bob Kurth, Wayne Schimpf, Dottie Humbert, Wayne Hanson, and Jim Schlichting. The others in attendance were citizens of Blue Lake Township and officials of the township government.

In an alleged conversation with a person prior to the trial, Stone expressed his surprise over the extent of the cost of mounting the lawsuit against Blue Lake Township. He was not asked by this person to quantify CAC's legal cost. However, one can only imagine how expensive this has become, especially in light of what CAC spent in 2006 for professional fees per their IL990 report, ie. more than $460,000.

Detailed testimonies were given by township witnesses Jim Cordray of one of Blue Lake Township commissions and Paul LeBlanc, a professional planning consultant and President of LSL Planning, a professional planning firm hired by Blue Lake Township to assist with amending their master plan. Both witnesses gave good testimony supporting the township's defense of their FR-I zoning (a zoning class for ALL six camps within their township). Both held up very well under cross examination by attorney Doug Dozema

It should be pointed out that Blue Lake Township's Master Plan was previously and unanimously adopted by their township board and further ratified by the Muskegon County Board.

On numerous occasions, both attorneys objected to the questioning by the other. It appeared that Judge Marietti seemed to be fair-handed in dealing with both and did permit additional evidence to be submitted by both attorneys.

The defense and the prosecution rested by 5pm and mutually agreed to submit their final arguments and summaries in writing no later than December 21 to the judge. The judge exclaimed interest in eliminating redundancy and in making their arguments to the point as he already had received many boxes of briefs and submitted evidence from both sides, enough to virtually fill up a small room. In addition, the judge had each trial hearing videotaped and is having the audio portions transcribed. The videos and transcriptions will be available to the public once posted under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act...for a fee.

Everyone is hoping that Judge Marietti will render his decision by the end of December, however the judge can deliberate longer if he feels he needs the time.

So, we wait...hope...pray.

by Ron Kulak, Scouter and Scarlet Sassafras editor

read more at "Oldest Operating Boy Scout Camp Still Fighting for Its Life", Jul 30, 2007
read more at "Bench Trial Continues for Camp Owasippe and Blue Lake Township", Nov 25, 2007
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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