One or more people, apparently upset over a development on Old Mission Peninsula, have caused thousands of dollars of damage to private property.

Committing a crime is not a good way to protest changes in the neighborhood.

Workers on Oct. 9 installed lettering on a stone sign at the site of the O’Grady Development Company’s “The 81 on East Bay” subdivision. That evening, trail cameras captured blurry images of a vehicle and a person. The next morning, the property owners discovered bright yellow spray paint reading “land rape” scrawled across the sign.

Committing a crime is not a good way to express disappointment about how someone uses their property.

Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Randy Fewless said the crime likely falls into felony territory. Deputies have looked into similar instances of spray painting this summer, but hesitated to call the incidents related.

The criminal acts are a troubling new chapter in the development’s history. The 41-house development project, on the shore of East Grand Traverse Bay just north of Boursaw Road on Old Mission Peninsula, has been at the center of a handful of legal battles.

Plans for The 81 drew criticism and two legal challenges from neighbors and township residents worried about issues including environmental impacts stemming from its agricultural history. Shortly after accusing the township of working with a land conservancy to force company co-owner and landholder Kevin O’Grady to sell the property to the conservancy, the developers filed a lawsuit.

In February, the developer settled its lawsuit against Peninsula Township, which agreed to pay $81,000 to the company. Court filings show that the developer had accused the Grand Traverse Area Regional Land Conservancy of conspiring with the township and its former attorney to strong-arm the developer into abandoning the project. The developer dropped the conservancy from the suit as part of the settlement agreement. Most of the environmental-related conditions township officials placed on the developer’s project remained in place, among other settlement terms.

After the legal battles ended early this year, it appears someone decided to move outside the law.

Writings in yellow paint have been found this summer outside the O’Grady’s home and on their seawall.

Others were found surrounding the development at Bluff and Boursaw roads. Company Vice President Kyle O’Grady estimated the damage at $50,000.

Opponents of the development used legal methods to express their concerns in the court system. They were disappointed in the outcome.

We understand people have strong feelings about land use, but breaking the law is a poor way to express those feelings.

Recommended for you