Traverse City Record-Eagle

Meijer-Acme Township Dispute

March 19, 2009

Details of Meijer settlement to go public

TRAVERSE CITY -- Details of a lawsuit settlement between five Acme Township officials and Meijer Inc. will be made public and might include a fence-mending offer from Meijer to the community.

Local attorney Michael Dettmer, who represents the township officials, said some form of community gesture was discussed during negotiations, but he's not sure if details have been worked out.

"It's a very broad, preliminary agreement," Dettmer said.

Township Trustees Erick Takayama, Frank Zarafonitis, Ron Harden and township planning Commissioners Robert Carstens and Clare David accused Meijer, the Village at Grand Traverse LLC, and their former attorneys Dickinson Wright PLLC and Timothy Stoepker, of malicious prosecution and abuse of court process.

The suit alleged Meijer, the Village, and their attorneys intentionally harmed township officials through a frivolous lawsuit, illegal campaign activity in two township elections and secret financial support of a citizens group that harassed township officials. Meijer and the Village wanted to build a large development along M-72.

The parties originally agreed to release the settlement to the public in about two weeks, but timelines may have changed now that knowledge of the agreement became known through court documents.

Dettmer said all parties want the settlement made public.

"Meijer and the Village wanted it to be transparent, and that was the least of the issues in negotiations," Dettmer said.

Dettmer declined to comment on the nature of the settlement until all parties have signed onto it.

The hint of a possible goodwill gesture came as a surprise to township officials who weren't part of the suit.

Township attorney Chris Bzdok and township Supervisor Wayne Kladder said they have not been approached regarding a peace offering.

Kladder said Meijer's actions "tore our community apart" and the community would appreciate some gesture.

Text Only