Westland fence fight: Residents sound off at developer meeting

- People are upset -- because a new neighbor is telling them the land they thought they owned -- isn't really theirs.

They were hoping to work things out at a meeting Wednesday night in the latest chapter of a Westland fence fight. About 80 or so people went to Franklin High School in Livonia to fight for a fence that has been around for decades.
 
"It is basically a clown car subdivision," said resident Tim Hull. "And you can't minimize it because if you do, you will lose property, you will lose profit. So every house you take away you lose a huge profit, so you don't do that.

 

"So you will steal the backyards of these people."

The heat was on pretty much from the beginning of the public meeting.

"You want to make money, the school district wants to make money and the city wants to make money," one resident said.

A residential developer with plans to build a subdivision stood at the podium, willing to take the verbal arrows of some passionate citizens. 

"Our goal is to build communities, not tear them down," said Rino Soave, Infinity Homes owner. "I have said it repeatedly; this isn't something where we can just commit to something today. Everybody's case is so different."

FOX 2 first told you how Rino Soave and his company Infinity Homes bought an old Livonia school with the plans to transform it into 80 or single family homes. 

But a property survey revealed that a chain link fence that been around for 50 years, did not follow the property lines meaning the developer owns a few inches or a few feet of these homeowners' backyards.  
 
People like Lynda Wolfe. 

"To move this fence, for roughly 6 inches?" she said.

That was what she told FOX 2 a week ago. She came to this meeting on Wednesday with the hope that a resolution could be reached. 

"I am just happy they listened to our thoughts about it," she said. "I am just worried they are going to do something behind our back."
 
Some offered solutions.

"If the fence stayed where it was and it didn't affect any of your yards, would that be acceptable to you?" asked one man, to which most replied yes.

Others got a lawyer and threatened legal action. 

"The goal of the night should be about talking solutions," said Kevin Hirzel, an attorney.

In the end the developer says he's taking it all under consideration. 

"There's going to be some time," Soave said. "We are in the middle of summer we want to get this in, and unfortunately winter will be upon us sooner or later, so we want to get this rolling."

Technically the developer doesn't own the property yet. The sale hasn’t been signed off, the real owner is the Livonia School District.
 

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