09-15-2016 Hagar moves to resolve legal issues of Vitale Market zoning; Hagar Twp. considers kayak l

Hagar Township considers kayak launch


 Hagar Township is contemplating an addition to its parks system in the form of a Kayak Launch to be located on an otherwise unused parcel of township land located along the Paw Paw River. Township Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio brought the concept before the Downtown Development Authority seeing an opportunity for development of an additional source of tourism especially in light of the recent multi-community efforts to clean up the Paw Paw River for small watercraft navigation.  Though only in the conceptual stage and pending a funding source at this time, the potential future park may serve to include paved parking, restrooms, a gazebo, picnic area and boardwalk access over existing wetlands to provide direct access the river for a kayak launch as shown in the preliminary site plan prepared by the team at Abonmarche Consultants.

Hagar moves to resolve legal issues of Vitale Market zoning

By Jon Bisnett

Following a closed session to review legal matters the Hagar board returned to public session to approve a motion to “…Take steps to resolve the case of Vitale vs. Township of Hagar as recommended by counsel.” The matter stems from grandfathered mixed commercial and residential zoning irregularities that surfaced when the Vitale family sought to sell the property to a developer who had intended to bring a commercial business to the property.   In other legal matters Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio was pleased to announce that the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has moved to dismiss the case of Dennis Knuth vs. Township of Hagar, leaving nothing but the US Supreme Court as the plaintiff’s recourse. The matter comes as a close to years of legal wrangling by the plaintiff in regard to a constitutional challenge of a township demolition order. DiMaggio noted township expense of over $50,000 in legal fees, before the township’s insurance company became involved. The case predates the current township board. The commentary of the Sixth District Court cites Knuth for “abusing the judicial process” by “retaining new counsel three times and each time, refusing to cooperate with his attorney… after being put on notice July 2015 for dilatory tactics, he hired another attorney and after the briefing schedule had been previously extended five times, requested six more extensions to respond to the motion to dismiss.”  When that response was finally filed in January of 2016, the court found no satisfactory explanation for his conduct, thus leading to formal the dismissal decision.  Readers may recall Knuth ran against the Republican DiMaggio for the office of Township Supervisor in 2011.


County Commissioner Bill Smith reported that Berrien County is busy working on the annual budget. Courthouse security is under review in the wake of the recent tragedy and is planning to be formally surveyed by experts with the county’s insurance carrier.  Smith also reported recent work along the Paw Paw River has cleared a path from Hayes Park in Watervliet to the Coloma Water Treatment Plant. Smith noted the presence of a significant log jam under the Paper Mill Bridge in Watervliet which in fact is so large that concerns for the integrity of bridge itself come into play. An engineer will be consulted for an opinion before any additional work can be done in that area.  Kim LaSata visited seeking support as the Republican candidate for the 79th District House seat currently served by the term-limited Al Pscholka and once held by her husband, Charles, who is now a Berrien County judge. LaSata, a school teacher, lives with her husband and four children on a 15-acre farm in Bainbridge Township.

Supervisors Report

Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio began by reporting the Paw Paw River clean-up effort is going well. Talk has come up of a proposed Maintenance Fund to provide relief in the event of sudden storm activity and unforeseen natural events that could compromise the cleanup effort. A figure of $5,000 per community has been suggested among the 15 entities involved.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Marlene Davis presented August expenses in the amount of $67,792.42 and reminded locals that Thursday, September 15 is the deadli