CROTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Newaygo County authorities have told a man that he will have to demolish his house, which now sits dangerously close to the Little Muskegon River.
Paul Atkinson has lost more than 29 feet of his Croton Township property to river erosion. The problem started during April's flooding and worsened with every subsequent rainfall. Now, the front door of his home is only a step from a 75-foot drop into the Little Muskegon River. In May, county authorities told Atkinson it was too dangerous to stay in the house and used FEMA dollars to him up in a hotel.
Since then, he has lost about another six inches of land to erosion. Now, authorities say the house has to go.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent an engineer to the property, who determined that the river bank could not be stabilized in a cost-efficient manner.
Newaygo County and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality stepped in. The county administrator met with Atkinson Thursday.
The county told Atkinson he must either let them demolish the house or set it on fire in a training burn. In either case, the cost of destruction will be billed to Atkinson's insurance.
Atkinson has lived in his home since 1992. He owns the house and land, both of which are completely paid off.
Atkinson said he has until end of summer to make his decision. In the interim, the county will allow him on the property, but doesn't want him sleeping there.
He said he doesn't know what he's going to do in the short term. The FEMA funding for his hotel room ended last week and he said he has no money for a camper or trailer. He said he has limited fixed income and is not able to pay for the demolition.
The county is hoping to resolve the issue without legal action. There is concern that the house could crumble while the issue were to play out in court.
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