All Kim Zimmer wanted was a home for herself and her mother.
Right now, she just lives in a house.
Zimmer, 60, lives in the house, at 2032 N. Main St., in Fairgrove. She bought the house in October at an auction for $5,000 and began moving in between Christmas and New Year’s of last year. She was attracted to the building set east of Poplar Street for its brick design, which is difficult to see now.
“You used to be able to look down this alleyway and you could see the front of my house,” said Zimmer.
Within the last month, a 6-foot tall wooden fence was placed 38 inches in front of her house by Ron Thomas, owner of Castamore Zangalotti’s Flashback Cafe, 2034 Main St. (and former village trustee and president). The two properties share an alley to get to the back of the cafe and the front of her property.
“This is the alley that gets me to my house,” she said, pointing at a layout of downtown Fairgrove that shows the single alley. “I can’t get to it (because) he won’t let me in it.”
Zimmer’s house sits behind the restaurant and she alleges since moving in there have been issues with the restaurant owner involving verbal assaults and the theft of well water.
Frustration led Zimmer to attend a Fairgrove Village Council meeting Monday, where she told the council the alley used to be her driveway but now she can’t access it because of the fence.
“That’s actually, I think, his property,” said council member Cathy Phelps, who is also Zimmer’s neighbor.
When moving in, Zimmer said an electric pole was damaged and an exposed live wire resulted in DTE Energy Co. coming out to make repairs. Zimmer was informed the alley is 44 feet wide and one side belongs to DTE, and the other 22 feet should belong to the property owners.
“What you need is an easement for you,” Village Council President Tom Wassa told Zimmer at the meeting. “So what you’re gonna have to do is basically take him to court to get that easement for access.
“That’s going to be two property disputes between you and them, which you’re going to have to take in court to get that.”
The Advertiser reached Zimmer at her house Tuesday afternoon, and she said the same DTE worker came out in May and told her that the power lines still need to be fixed, and that Thomas needs to acquire an easement, she added.
Wassa said the fence is a zoning complaint that would require Zimmer to contact Deb Young, Fairgrove Township Assessor, and to file a grievance with village clerk Heidi Stark.
Zimmer also suffers from health problems. The cancer survivor fears the disease may come back, and in September will have another surgery. Stark suggested if she needs medical attention to alert emergency medical services with an arrow indicating where the pick her up.
Zimmer and her mother had resided in Saginaw the past 60 years. Her mother died in January, shortly after the move to Fairgrove.
In March, Zimmer also told the council a water line broke, and she paid the $1,800 bill.
“He puts up the fence and where that pipe broke, it’s on his side of the fence …,” she said, alleging he was taking water from her well to his restaurant.
The council responded to that issue as well.
“I can’t tell you what to do, but in my case I would not be paying for someone else’s water,” said Wassa.
“The thing is, that’s something you’re going to have to take to court,” Wassa continued, “That’s something civil … that’s something we can’t take care of here. And most of what you talked about (Monday) is something you’re going to have to take before civil court at the county level because it’s a dispute between you and another property owner and we really and honestly do not know where your property boundaries are … ”
“It was never split,” said council member Duane Maguire.
Around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, The Advertiser went to Thomas’ restaurant to get his side of the story. He said the fence was built legally with a permit and the allegations of taking well water from Zimmer were not true. He chose not to comment any further.
The Advertiser tried to reach Young since Wednesday for details regarding the contested easement and property line. She did not respond to messages left by press time.
Zimmer said she spoke with Young, who told her she will have to take Thomas to court.
Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org