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Battle between families, Kalamazoo County continues over lakeside property following judge ruling

Johnson/Talanda Property in Prairie View County Park
Posted at 5:44 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 18:09:42-04

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — The battle over a sliver of property in Prairie View County Park continues between two families and Kalamazoo County.

Fox 17 reported on the lakeside cottage a few weeks ago that has been in the families' names for over 50 years.

A Kent County judge ruled Friday that Kalamazoo County has the right to make an offer to purchase half of the Johnson/Talanda property.

This ruling comes after a clause in a 1963 agreement signed by the original owners and Kalamazoo County was allegedly violated.


"The judge said that the Kalamazoo County has the right to make an offer on half the property, the Talanda half," said Randall Levine, a managing partner at Levine & Levine who is representing some of the Johnson/Talanda family members.

It has been a constant battle between the Johnson/Talanda families and Kalamazoo County for a sliver of property in the northeast side of Prairie View County Park on Gourdneck Lake.

"For a while, we were trying to work something out with the county in agreement with the Johnson’s, the county and us but we could never get an agreement on the rules," said Laraine Talanda Goetting, a daughter of one of the original owners of the cottage.

An agreement made between the county and the original owners back in 1963 gave the county "first right or purchase".

While many of the Johnson/Talanda family members want to keep the property within the family, two of the Talanda sisters said they want to honor their parents' wishes.

"It is about honoring our mom and dad and our grandma too. Leaving that property is really painful. It hurts a lot," said Talanda Goetting.

"We owe it back to the county, so even though it is sad and very sentimental and hard for us, our parents would be pleased that we are honoring their promises," said Annette Brennan, another daughter of one of the original owners of the cottage.

Other Johnson/Talanda family members are willing to continue the fight to keep it in their family.

Their attorney, Randall Levine said the judge's ruling has limited impact.

"The families are going to continue to enjoy the property. No one has ordered that they can’t have it. If Kalamazoo County wants to take it, they are going to have to spend hundreds of thousands, maybe millions to offer fair market value and to start a condemnation proceeding," said Levine.

The court is now waiting for a new order to be submitted for the judge to sign.

Levine said some of the Johnson/Talanda family members are discussing an appeal to the order, but they have not made that decision yet.

Fox 17 also reached out to Kalamazoo County for comment and is awaiting a statement.