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Holly family may get reprieve if board sees the light

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Holly Township — Thanksgiving dinner may taste a bit sweeter for a township family — if they still have electricity to cook or see their meal.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution recently asking Holly Township officials to maintain the electrical power to a trailer the Smith family has been living off South Holly Road for the past two years after losing their house and part of their land in a bank foreclosure.

The township has said an underground electrical cable is unsafe and indicated they plan to remove the cable that runs from a utility pole on township property. The anticipated shutoff was delayed after the Smiths parked a large backhoe vehicle across the only road leading onto the property off South Holly Road.

“This is nothing more than a land grab by officials,” Commissioner Robert Hoffman, R-Highland Township, told The News. “The property neighbors part of the Shiawassee River and they (township) want to build a riverside park on the land and the Smiths stand in their way.”

“I think its legally and morally wrong what they have done to this family,” said Hoffman, who plans to hand deliver the county resolution at the next township board meeting. “I’m hoping they will reconsider some of their actions.”

The adopted resolution notes “it would be inhumane and unfair” to attempt to deny the Smith family power until legal issues are finally determined in court. The Smiths, whose Oakland Circuit lawsuit was dismissed, currently are seeking to have their case heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals because of foreclosure and land division issues they believe violate state law.

Timm and Maria Smith and their two teenage children have been living out of a woodstove-heated, modified trailer on 10 acres of wooded property they still own adjacent to the foreclosed home and 10 additional acres. The bank deeded a parcel of the property over to the township shortly after the foreclosure and township threats to fine the bank $300 a day for blighted conditions.

Township Supervisor Dale Smith, no relation to the family, said no decision has been made on a future park but he is weary of a five-year legal battle with the Smiths. Supervisor Smith said the family is in violation of township laws, including living in the trailer and blight on the property. The Smiths were cited earlier this month and advised they had one month to resolve issues or face unspecified legal action.

The Smiths fell behind on their mortgage after Timm Smith, a skilled tradesman, broke his back and suffered a stroke and was unable to work.

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