West Michigan woman fights to regain property from village

Posted at 6:04 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 18:04:27-04

EDMORE, Mich. -- Jeanette Ragan said she's fighting to reclaim the property she and her husband worked hard for in the Village of Edmore. She's lived there since 1985.

Ragan said the village installed a fence on her property illegally in 2013.

“It seemed to me that they didn’t think that I would notice," Ragan told FOX 17.

The fence surrounds sewage lagoons behind the woods on her 15 acre property. In 2013, Ragan said the village replaced an old fence and the new one was built on as much as 19 feet of her land and took away nearly half an acre in the area.

At the time, Ragan said she had her hands full and was caring for her dying husband and then an ailing son. She said she didn’t realize the problem until fall 2015 after hiring a surveyor for a different matter.

“He came and let me know that their... fence was on my property," Ragan recalled.

She said she contacted the Village of Edmore immediately and really started pressing the issue in spring 2016 by writing letters to village leadership, visiting the office and going to council meetings.

“They never called. They never wrote a letter. They never did anything,” Ragan said.

In the past week, a formal response from the village came after she hired an attorney. Ragan told the village she was giving them 30 days to respond regarding the fence before she'd take legal action.

FOX 17 stopped by the village office and then called village manager Neil Rankin, who agreed to a phone interview. FOX 17 asked Rankin how the fence ended up on her property in the first place.

He responded, "We redid the sewer ponds in the Village of Edmore and the fence was reinstalled based upon previous employees' markings. I’m not sure who exactly did it.”

Rankin reiterated what he wrote in his letter to Ragan, stating the village will pay to have the land surveyed.

After the village's survey is complete and if it shows the land, in fact, belongs to Ragan, Rankin said "we would remove it from her property and reinstall it.”

He said it’s not clear what documents were used by the village in 2013 and that farmland can have vague descriptions. However, Ragan said there’s no gray area, that the land is hers, and it’s something she holds dear.

“Before my husband passed away, he said, 'I’m sorry honey, but this is the only thing I can give you. So I’m trying to hang onto it,'" she recalled.

The village manager said he didn't start his position with the village until the spring. This is his second stint in that position. Ragan is giving the village until Nov. 10 to respond with a plan of action or else she'll take them to court.