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Documents detail plans for church driveway facing opposition | News

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Documents detail plans for church driveway facing opposition

SPRING LAKE, Mich. (WZZM) -- Some Spring Lake residents say the issue is now not so much about a new driveway for a church, but can they trust their village government?

"The deceptions, the hiding of the truth and the lies," complains village resident Elliot Grysen. "No longer trust these individuals to carry out their responsibilities in the village's best interest."

At the center of the dispute is a proposed new driveway for All Shores Wesleyan Church. Before buying property for a new driveway, church leaders communicated their plans privately to Village Manager Christine Burns.

Opponents say 500 pages of e-mails acquired through the Freedom of Information Act show village staff deliberately concealed the project from the public until the property was purchased and a permit for the driveway was approved.

"Let's put ink to paper and get this done before the neighbors find out," reads Grysen, quoting one of the village manager's e-mails. "Why waste time with public opinion?" asks another e-mail.

"Actually, they took a number of those out of context," responds Village Manager Burns. "There is an equal number of e-mails saying this needs to go to the neighbors. You need to take this to the neighbors."

Village Manager Burns says the proposed driveway will relieve congestion around the church after Sunday services.

"This driveway will alleviate congestion along M-104," she says. "It would make it safer for residents, safer for the church goers and anyone who travels on M-104. We waited until the property was purchased until we contacted the neighbors. We think it was done properly."

But Grysen says residents on surrounding residential streets have battled plans for another driveway at the church for years.

He says village staff deliberately concealed this latest plan to eliminate opposition.

"The troubling thing is, this time they decided to do it without any notice to any of us," he says. "The e-mails speak for themselves. We were never told. A back room deal was cut and the village manager directed village staff to keep the deal secret from the village."

A judge sent a lawsuit filed by opponents to the driveway back to the village for possible consideration by the zoning board of appeals.

Although the church bought the necessary property and has a village permit, no work has been done yet on a new driveway.