2017-04-06 / Life in Leelanau

Fence project required step for Sugar Loaf; neighbors upset

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


CHAIN-LINK fencing now surrounds Sugar Loaf Resort as ordered by the Leelanau County Construction Code Authority. Broken windows and doors have been boarded up. A fence gate still needs to be secured and more “no trespassing” signs installed before all code requirements have been met. CHAIN-LINK fencing now surrounds Sugar Loaf Resort as ordered by the Leelanau County Construction Code Authority. Broken windows and doors have been boarded up. A fence gate still needs to be secured and more “no trespassing” signs installed before all code requirements have been met. The lodge at Sugar Loaf Resort is now surrounded by a chain-link fence.

The head of Leelanau County’s Construction Code Authority, Steve Haugen, said the fence was erected last week by a two-man crew from Ohio in less than 24 hours.

Installation of fencing around the dilapidated and blighted resort will bring it into closer compliance with the state Construction Code, Haugen said. Most of the broken windows and doors in the building have been boarded up.

Haugen said that installation of more “no trespassing” signs as well as a lock and chain securing an open gate in the fencing will bring the structure into full compliance with the Construction Code.

Earlier this year, Haugen gave the owner of the resort, California real estate attorney and investor Jeff Katofsky, until May 1 to bring the resort into compliance. Fencing it off and boarding it up was the cheapest option.

Two other options included restoring and refurbishing the facility — a project that would likely cost millions of dollars — or demolishing the facility and cleaning up the land, likely costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Haugen said he does not know how much Katofsky has spent to board up the facility and fence it off. The fencing was erected March 28 by an Akron, Ohiobased crew from National Rent-a-Fence, a subsidiary of National Construction Rentals which provides a variety of items used by construction companies at job sites.

Katofsky has said it could be two or more years before any significant work is done on Sugar Loaf Resort — and only if he determines whether it will make any business sense to reopen Sugar Loaf as a ski resort. The property has been closed for skiing since March 2000.

Katofsky acquired the resort last year from a corporation controlled by longtime owner Remo Polselli. Katofksy has said he also acquired two other Polselliowned properties in Michigan as the result of a legal settlement with Polselli. Katofsky has said that work on a hotel he acquired in Romulus, and another in St. Clair, will take precedence over any plans he might formulate for Sugar Loaf.

Katofsky has a $6 million mortgage on Sugar Loaf Resort through a Montanabased corporate entity controlled by Polselli.

Although efforts to bring Sugar Loaf Resort into compliance with the state Code are seen by county officials as a positive development, neighbors of the resort feel differently.

The co-manager of the Sugar Loaf Townhouse Owners Association, Tony Mattar, said he thinks the fencing around the resort building “makes it look like a prison.”

In an email he sent to county officials last week, Mattar said the fence only “makes the place look even worse, and calls more attention to its dilapidated condition.”

Mattar said he suspects that installation of the fence “will give the present owner unlimited time to do nothing, furthering the depressing of property values and detracting from the Leelanau Peninsula’s attraction.”

Haugen said he visited Sugar Loaf four times last week and on two occasions observed people trespassing on portions of the property that are not fenced off. He said he observed young people riding motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles up and down Sugar Loaf’s former ski slopes.

Haugen said more “no trespassing” signs will be erected around the property, and he expects that the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office will be called more often whenever trespassers are spotted on the property.

Return to top