If you don't own a dock on a lake, you can still take a boat out onto the water via public property. Unless that public property is guarded by a grouch.
Ed Sienkiewicz owns one of those homes on Wolverine Lake and he likes to chase away neighbors who aren't big shots and don't own homes on the lake. How does the big shot get away with it? His neighbors say it's because he's a local elected official. However, the property he's protecting isn't all his: some of it is the lake's public access property next door.
Wolverine Lake is a village tucked right between Novi and Milford. Lots of people have lakefront homes. Those who don't can access the lake from areas called public road ends. All of them are inviting except for the one next to the councilman's home. A neighbor told us Ed will go down and tell people it's private property and tells people to leave.
Kassie lives a few houses down from the lake. She says Ed has been keeping her and her nieghbors out of the water using intimidation and dirty tricks. His latest is a barrier of cat tails in the water.
"This has been going on for years and he'll create one obstacle after another after another to make sure people don't go down there," Kassie said.
Anoter neighbor, Pete, has been feuding with Ed for 30 years. He says Ed has parked his work vehicles to block him off the lake, planted trees, and even placed rocks in the water. Ed's antics have raised some eyebrows on the council, but somehow, Mr. Councilman always seems to come out on top.
So Rob Wolchek wanted to test Ed's response. He sent two teenage boys out to the lake access point next to his home. They tried to launch a kayak through the dense reeds and rocks on the shore. It wasn't easy, but they made it out and on the water. When they returned, Ed was there.
He told the boys it's not their property and it's not a public access; it's a road easement. He then says he's not going to report them but tells them they've damaged the cat tails. They apologize and this is how he responds:
"It's just that there's a reason that's there. That was actually planted there."
Ed succeeds in scaring off his neighbors and no one goes down to the lakes for weeks. Until Rob, his producer, and a cameraman go fishing for the big fish in a small pond.
After they arrive, they meet Ed. He tells them it's a road easement and they don't allow fishing. They don't allow fishing on public property?
"Nope. It's not a public, it's not an outlot, it's not a subdivision out lot."
He keeps explaining why they can't fish there and then addresses the cat tail barrier. He says it was put up intentionally keep all the 'crap from coming in'. Wonder what he means by crap?
Rob asks him about the laws allowing fishing on public roads. He says to trust him because he's part of the village. He's big time, remember? He says he won't report them if they go away.
"I'm not going to make a complaint I'm not going to make a stink. All I want tell you, just like I told the last guys who tried to bring a boat down here and knocked down all that growth that they're trying to put up."
The growth, Ed says now, was put up by the village and the DNR.
Rob and company break out the camera and the law - which they believe to be on their side. He asks where the law says he can't fish and then asks who planted the reeds?
Mother nature, Ed says now.
Remember, just a few minutes before, he said they were planted there.
Ed goes back to the idea that it was a buffer. Like a fish out of water, he flops back to the Mother Nature argument.
Ed and Rob discuss what's law and what isn't. The law actually doesn't say anything about fishing, which Rob is licensed to do in Michigan.
So that's that and Ed goes back to his home. Right?
Not quite. Ed comes back out and demands our crew to get off his property and then calls the cops. The officers of the law have to listen to the entire story for themselves, all while we're on public property.
In the end, Ed lands where all the big fish do: in the Hall of Shame!