Spring Lake, Mich. – On most days, the multi-million dollar mansion at the end of North Shore Estates Road sits quiet; high atop the sand dunes in Spring Lake.
But a quick online search reveals that the home is not just for sale, you can rent it for get-togethers like weddings or reunions. According to the North Shore Estates Association rules, renting out a property for commercial use is prohibited, so the group filed a lawsuit against the homeowner, Tyler Smith.
The biggest complaint seems to be parking for the events, with cars clogging up the already narrow road.
“(The vehicles) fill up on both sides of the road,” says neighbor Chris Wells. “You can hardly get a car down, much less an emergency vehicle.”
According to Smith, he hasn’t been officially served with the lawsuit, but he is aware of what’s brewing. During a phone conversation, Smith said the home is rented out only a handful of times each summer, and once in a while during an off-season weekend. He believes he’s being unfairly targeted, because other homeowners are allowed to rent their property as a vacation home or have large parties without problems.
Thomas Thornhill, the lawyer representing the neighborhood, is also a resident. He says it’s OK to rent a home for single family living, but not for events. Smith argues that some large houses sleep a dozen or more people, and are probably being rented to more than one family at a time.
In addition to parking issues, some neighbors say mansion guests often stray beyond the home’s 300 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline and residents end up sharing their private beach with strangers.
“(We) put the cars in the driveway, put all the flood lights on, make sure everything is locked,” Wells sighs. “We’re not that kind of neighborhood, but we have to be now.”
Wells adds that safety of the party-goers and the residents is at the top of the priority list for the neighborhood.
Thornhill says the association has tried to reason with Smith several times. He says last fall Smith was present at a townhall meeting about the parking issues; after that, No Parking signs were added to cul-du-sac in front of Smith’s home.
Smith acknowledged the meeting and says that’s when he started using shuttle services and limousines to keep the road clear during events.
Thornhill says there’s a hearing scheduled for later this month where a judge could put a stop to all future parties at the house until the lawsuit is settled.