Problem Solvers: Neighbor dispute takes violent turn in Van Buren County

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jun 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-03 22:42:53-04

BLOOMINGDALE, Mich. — A neighborly dispute has taken a violent turn in Van Buren County, and now deputies, the county prosecutor’s office, and township officials are involved.

John Mccune said he’s lived by Scott Lake for 14 years, but issues began heating up with his neighbor last Octover. He said is neighbors are shining spotlights at his home, and they’ve installed surveillance cameras that point right at his property.

But it’s a recent shooting incident that he said was the last straw.

“I’m really fed up,” said Mccune.

“He comes out of the porch on the side of his house, and bang, bang, bang. You know four or five times.”

Mccune called the FOX 17 Problem Solvers after he said his neighbors, the Bryans, shot at him while he was in his car. Investigators with the Sheriff’s Department said the shots came from a pellet gun.

FOX 17 obtained police reports from the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department showing authorities have been called for issues nearly a dozen times since October 2014. Mccune  is now documenting his own notes of every encounter he has with his neighbors. He said it all started when the Bryans dug on his land to drain water last October.

“I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but he should get permits like everybody else. You can’t just take it on yourself to do it,” said Mccune.

Mccune said the digging shortened the road and made it unsafe.

“He just dug it crooked,” he said.

The spotlights followed, according to Mccune. Police reports show they are sensor lights, but Mccune said  they were shining into his home continuously every night.  A loud alarm also beeped for four straight days, according to a township official, along with a generator that runs continuously.

Mccune said he’s upset his neighbors are invading on his privacy.

The Bryans have installed about 12 cameras, and some of the cameras point directly at the Mccunes’ home.

FOX 17 asked the Bryans about their tactics. Peggy Bryan told us the lights were not put up purposely to annoy the Mccunes, and denied shooting at them.

The Mccunes said they called the FOX 17 Problem Solvers after reaching out to the township and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department, with limited results.

“Nobody gets a hold of me, and when I call somebody they don’t want to talk to me,” said Mccune.

Township attorney, Brian Knotek, told FOX 17 the township was made aware of the issues about six months ago. They have forced the Bryans to take down the beeping alarm in accordance with their noise ordinance. He said the township takes neighbor disputes very seriously, but they have little jurisdiction over some of the problems happening between the Bryans and Mccunes.

“Sadly, the difficulty for the township in situations when a dispute between homeowners happens is that we are only able to enforce the ordinances that a town has in place,” said Knotek.

Knotek says they have contacted water officials as well as the DNR about the digging that the Bryans were doing on wetlands. Knotek says some of their ordinances are very outdated.

The township’s noise ordinance states if a noise can be heard at the end of a property from another neighbor, it is prohibited. However, there is no guideline to how soft or how loud the noise can be; therefore, the generator that operates from dusk until dawn is allowed to stay.

Knotek said the township will present updates to some ordinances at the next township board meeting to address other issues the disputing neighbors are having with one another.

As for the pellet gun shooting and a possible stalking complaint, those issues must be handled by the Sheriff’s Department and the county prosecutor. Both agencies are aware of the dispute.

The sheriff must file charges with the prosecutor before anything can happen. The prosecutor told FOX 17 those files were received shortly after we reached out to the township.

Mccune said he wants a resolution soon in order to find closure.

“I just want them to leave me alone,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Department and prosecutor’s officer told FOX 17 reports have been submitted to determine if any further action can be taken.