KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Lawyers for Kalamazoo County have requested to dismiss their complaint to condemn the Johnson-Talanda Cottage in Prairie View Park, a home that has been the center of a legal battle for nearly five years.
The request includes paying the legal fees of $55,000 that the Johnson and Talanda families have incurred.
The cottage, which is owned by the Johnson and Talanda families, is currently surrounded by the more than 200-acre county-owned property that makes up Prairie View Park in Vicksburg. The families said they’ve owned the third of an acre plot of land the cottage currently sits on since the 1940s. At that time there were a handful of adjacent privately owned plots in the area.
The homeowners said when the county built a park around the subdivision in the 60s, it attempted to condemn and absorb the cottage property. While other owners sold, the Johnson and Talanda families said they made a legal agreement with the county and kept their cottage by passing it from generation to generation.
The county said the document indicated that when the original owners died, which happened a few years ago, the county would have the opportunity to purchase the land for a fair value. In March, the commission voted to pay the family $310,000 for the lakefront property.
In Monday’s announcement, the Levine and Levine law firm said the request for dismissal allows the county to file another condemnation complaint at a later date.
“The county will not respond to FOIA requests regarding legal fees already incurred during the process leading up to and filing the condemnation complaint,” Randall Levine, managing partner of Levine and Levine, said in a press release. “Reasonable estimates exceed $500,000 since they started the quest to take the cottage from the families. If they remain unwilling to negotiate a settlement, the case is likely to cost well in excess of $1 million, if the county were to win. If the county were to lose its fight to condemn the property, they will be required to pay all of the family’s legal fees for a second time, which could exceed hundreds of thousands more dollars.”
~ News 8 anchor and reporter Whitney Burney contributed to this report.