2017-11-02 / Front Page

Stay off the mountain, for now

Sheriff steps up efforts
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


SHERIFF MIKE Borkovich wants everybody to know that he and his deputies are serious about enforcing “no trespassing” at Sugar Loaf Resort. SHERIFF MIKE Borkovich wants everybody to know that he and his deputies are serious about enforcing “no trespassing” at Sugar Loaf Resort. If you’re proposing marriage to someone, don’t do it atop Sugar Loaf Mountain and post photos of it on social media.

Past discrepancies are excluded, of course, which is good news for the future of one couple who did just that. Their proposal — and acceptance — occurred before the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office began a crackdown on trespassing.

Sheriff Mike Borkovich is reminding everyone that Sugar Loaf Resort is private property, so any unauthorized person inside the lodge or other structures — or on the slopes in a vehicle or on foot — constitutes trespassing.

“As of now,” the sheriff said Wednesday, “we will be enforcing trespass laws very strictly at Sugar Loaf.”


TRESPASSERS KNOCKED down one sign, which was replaced at Sugar Loaf Resort. TRESPASSERS KNOCKED down one sign, which was replaced at Sugar Loaf Resort. Trespass violations have always been enforced at Sugar Loaf, but perhaps not as diligently as they will be going forward, the sheriff said. The difference now is that the resort is owned by an individual that most county officials and local residents are convinced may actually bring the resort back to life.

A young man and his fiancé who recently announced their engagement by posting photos of themselves atop Sugar Loaf Mountain abruptly removed the photos from a popular social media site this week after learning about the sheriff’s stepped-up efforts to keep trespassers off the Sugar Loaf property.

“I grew up around here and Sugar Loaf means so much to so many people,” said the young man, who asked that his name not be used. “It’s so beautiful up there this time of year, too. I’m glad to hear that a new owner plans to make something happen there. In the meantime, we promise not to trespass anymore.”

The sheriff said he has no intention of pursuing anyone who may have trespassed on the property in the past. But the Sheriff’s office is now responding to Katofsky’s expressed desire that the property be safeguarded and that “no trespassing” signs posted there be honored.

Since he acquired the resort more than a year ago, Katofsky has boarded up the lodge and other structures in compliance with the state Construction Code, fenced off much of the facility, and seen to it that more “no trespassing” signs are posted. He is currently developing plans to turn Sugar Loaf into a “four-star” resort and may begin substantial work there within 18 months to two years.

“In the meantime, there have been too many people breaking into the lodge, walking around the property, driving up the hill – and it’s all trespassing,” the sheriff said. “We don’t want to write people tickets, but we will if we catch them there.”

The sheriff said young people have been consuming alcohol and using drugs on the property. In addition, some folks have taken to climbing Sugar Loaf Mountain in motor vehicles and literally tearing up the slopes.

“Someday, one of those four-by-fours is going roll over and somebody is going to get killed,” the sheriff said.

“We’re all really encouraged that the new owner plans to bring hundreds of jobs back to Leelanau County and turn Sugar Loaf Resort into something we can all be proud of,” Borkovich added. “When Jeff Katofsky was here last month, he told me he is very concerned about trespassing on his property and is asking everybody to cooperate.”

A California attorney and real estate investor, Katofsky acquired the resort in November 2015 and since then has been busy developing two other properties he acquired around the same time downstate in Michigan.

During a widely publicized visit to Leelanau County on Oct. 20, Katofsky said it will likely be more than a year before plans are finalized for Sugar Loaf, and it’s not yet known whether those plans will include skiing facilities. Old lifts are currently being dismantled on the property.

Katofksy said Sugar Loaf Resort might reopen sometime in the 2021- 2022 timeframe. The resort has been closed since March 2000.

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