2016-10-06 / Courts

Charges against Noverr reduced to one misdemeanor

District Court more appropriate
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

Controversial Elmwood Township “wedding barn” owner Frank Noverr was back in 86th District Court this week and learned that a felony charge against him will be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Earlier this year, Noverr faced two felony counts charging that he obstructed a sheriff’s deputy and an emergency medical technician who were responding to a 9-1-1 call of a medical emergency on his property on Aug. 13.

Originally, Noverr was alleged to have obstructed both of the emergency responders and faced two charges.

Leelanau County Assistant Prosecutor Tristan Chamberlain said last month that additional information gathered since the incident indicated that the emergency medical technician who drove an ambulance “was not obstructed by Mr. Noverr,” resulting in one of the felony charges being dismissed.

Following a court hearing Tuesday, Chamberlain reported that the one remaining felony charge had been reduced to a misdemeanor charge of “attempted” obstruction of the sheriff’s deputy.

“After looking at all the facts and circumstances, we felt this case would be most appropriately handled as a misdemeanor in District Court rather than a felony in Circuit Court,” Chamberlain said.

If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Noverr could face up to a year in jail plus hefty fines. He is due back in court with his attorney for a pretrial hearing on Oct. 18.

When a sheriff’s deputy and an Elmwood Township ambulance responded to a 9-1-1 call at Noverr Farm on Aug. 13, the deputy reported that hundreds of people were there, apparently for a wedding reception. Noverr allegedly told the deputy that “only he and his wife were on the property,” according to the criminal complaint filed against Noverr.

It turns out that a woman in medical distress on Noverr’s property on Aug. 13 may have been suffering from a drug overdose. She was transported to Munson Medical Center, treated and released.

Neighbors in Noverr’s Lakeview Road neighborhood in the northwestern corner of Elmwood Township have been complaining for years about noise and increased traffic attributed to “special events” held at Noverr’s farm. Since he signed a “settlement agreement” with the township in 2013 pledging to stop holding such events on a commercial basis, Noverr has insisted that he has not been compensated for events he has hosted there.

Earlier this year, Noverr successfully sued Elmwood Township’s zoning administrator and Zoning Board of Appeals for declining to consider his conditional land use permit application. Township officials had said his application was not complete, but a judge subsequently disagreed. A continuation of a public hearing on his land use application has yet to be scheduled.

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