Dealing with Grand Ledge Government

"The problem with government at every level in our culture today is that those in the government have forgotten they are supposed to be there 'for the people,' not trying to make lives more difficult for the citizens they are elected, or hired, to serve."  — william



It has been my experience here in Grand Ledge that the government simply tells you in threatening terms that you are in violation of something without offering any reasonable solutions. The above letter is a fine example of how a government can alienate its citizenry, cause stress, place burdens on them, plus add a not so subtle form of blackmail, all in one fell swoop. 

It took five days for the letter to arrive. I checked our mail Tuesday afternoon on July 20, 2024, and immediately opened the envelope to see whatever it was the city might be sending us. I was more than a little bit miffed for all of the reasons I have stated in the previous paragraph. Since the fourteen days was from the date of the letter, and it took five days for the letter to get to us, this meant we only effectively had nine days at ages 70 and 73 to take down a 10X40 well designed heavy structure in the middle of winter, and figure out where to store it since our garage repairs were being held hostage by the building permit requirement. That would be the very garage where we intended to store the carport tents. The same garage we had to remove all of the contents from and keep empty until the company we hired to repair and straighten it did their work. It became out of square when a 40 foot 24 inch in diameter tree fell on it last August during a major storm. When the insurance company finally approved repairs, we were number 65 in line waiting to be placed on the schedule. After the letter, I received a voicemail from the contractor stating they were ready to get us scheduled, but were being prevented by the city which was holding up the building permit, as is clearly stated in the letter we received. 



In addition to that, we have to figure out how to protect our cars from the weather, considering we are still in the heart of winter, even if we have been blessed with some nice days. All of this is supposed to take place in a nine day time frame, or the government is going to penalize us with stiff fines because we happen to live in one of three residential houses at the very edge of the "Central Business District" zoning, and are in violation of rules created by these government servants who are supposed to be in place "for the people." It is no wonder our country is in such a disarray when even a local government is creating such stress on its citizens for simply trying to protect their cars from the weather. 



As you can see, it is not like we just threw up some temporary shanty behind a business storefront for whatever purpose. My wife suggested we try to start taking the carports down that day since we had decent weather. First, I immediately went to the Grand Ledge city hall to get information that might enlighten me on what our options were to keep our cars protected. I was told the person who sent us this letter is only in Grand Ledge one day per week. I asked for a copy of a zoning map. I wanted to see if Joyce Park was in the same zoning. I was told they do not have that information, only the one day per week person has the information I requested. For virtually every question I asked, the response was I needed to see the city government employee who was in town only one day per week. Luckily, as I was walking down the hall toward the police department, the city clerk happened to come out of his office, saw me looking at some maps on the walls, and asked if I had any questions. When I told him I was looking for a zoning map, he said he had one on the wall in his office, and was gracious enough to take a moment to show it to me. He also mentioned that zoning violations were usually triggered by complaints. 

None of our neighbors have complained about us protecting our cars in the winter with the carport tents between our house and our next door neighbor's fence. In fact, they offered to sign if needed months ago that they were alright with how close things are to property lines on our small lots. This letter apparently was precipitated because that 40 foot tree fell on our garage, and finally, after six months, the company we hired to fix it needed to get a building permit to start the repairs. 




The car I am most concerned about protecting is the 2000 Impala my dad owned for twenty-one years in Florida. We bought it from my step-mother several years after he died, and brought it to Michigan. I suppose I could cover it with a tarp. But, that would not make it very easy to access any time I needed to drive it somewhere. With all the setback rules, there is no room for a garage, or a permanent carport, on our small lot, even if we could afford it, which we cannot. I placed the carports back even with the house, so they would not be obtrusive. In fact, the neighboring six foot wood fence extends farther toward the road than our carport tent. 

". . . Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."  — The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America. July 4, 1776. 

They had more to worry about than a local government bullying citizens over trying to protect their cars with a quality carport tent. Yet, the intent of those philosophies that created our country are clear. I have been a resident of Grand Ledge, Michigan for about half a century. We will comply not because our government threatens and blackmails us, but because we are law abiding citizens, and believe in a God who instructs us to respect authorities. Yet, if it is becoming a threatening unjust government of rules and laws lacking common sense, that places burdens on its citizens, rather than a town that helps its citizens, then I no longer recommend Grand Ledge as a place to live.  


The Rest Of The Story
(added February 29th)

I had also asked the city clerk if he could get me a copy of the city ordinance the letter pertained to, which he did. The reason for this is our previous experience with building codes some years ago. Our front porch was in great need of repair, but we could not afford to hire it done. So, my wife and I, with occasionally a little help from other family members, were doing the work. We came home one day to find a red tag on our door telling us to stop repairs because we had violated some ordinance, which meant we were now required to get a building permit. I had no issue paying for a building permit, but that came along with a requirement to meet all the current building codes. We were told we would have to put a railing around our front porch. We could not afford a railing, nor did we have the skills to properly put one in place. Our house was almost a hundred years old at the time, and had never had a railing around the porch. As it turned out, the code actually only required a railing if the porch was a certain distance from the ground. So we built up flower beds all around the porch to a level which solved the issue. Jesus said the truth will set you free. It also helps to know the whole truth before determining how you can deal with government rules and regulations. 


From: Gregory Newman (
Date: Tue, Feb 20, 2024 at 4:09 PM
To: ""

Zoning Ordinance - temporary structures in CBD


I’ve attached City Code Section 46-281. The pertinent section is 46-281(8)a which states, “Accessory structures are permitted in a rear yard only.” There may be another section(s) which also apply to your situation. I’m not as versed in the Zoning Ordinance as Zoning Administrator Stachowiak.

I hope you can find a solution!

Gregory Newman, City Clerk
City of Grand Ledge
310 Greenwood St.
Grand Ledge MI 48837
(517) 622-7920 office
(517) 402-3370 mobile

Attachment: Grand Ledge, MI Code of Ordinances.pdf


From: William Gibbons Jr (
Date: Thu, Feb 22, 2024 at 2:25 PM
To: Gregory Newman (


Thank you for the copy of the ordinance I was seeking at city hall, along with a zoning map. I am going to use your email for a reply since you were on my list of persons to receive my response to the letter we were sent. I created a webpage, which I have just uploaded and can now be seen online. Here is the direct link:

Dealing With Grand Ledge Government (

Both links take you to the same place. I found when dealing with Comcast/Xfinity, State Farm Insurance, and a vendor of, where multiple people are involved, a webpage was my best alternative to make sure everybody is seeing the same information. To that end, I will be adding your email, and this reply to the page in a week when I will go back online to upload my picture of the week to my site.

Informational note: As reply to a voicemail I left for Mayor Keith Mulder, he stopped by yesterday. I explained to him the main reason I desired his involvement was if, after reviewing all the complicated rules, I were left with no alternative to protect my vehicles from winter weather while living in Grand Ledge, before we would start looking at any possibility to move elsewhere, I would seek input on the political process necessary to change the rules to make city government more citizen friendly.

God's peace,



The above reference to moving elsewhere was not meant to be cavalier. In my walk as a domestic missionary, I have discovered that sometimes God initiates change in my life utilizing experiences of dissatisfaction with something. After twenty years of owning my own State Farm office, I had been becoming disillusioned by some of the things State Farm was doing. It took a few years, but eventually I gave up my State Farm career to follow the promptings I was feeling for what I do now. After the turmoil of 2023, I was finally feeling like things were settling down a bit when the letter from the city arrived. One of my considerations needed to be if this was another one of those times when God was nudging me toward a significant change. I do not think so at this juncture. Or at least I do not believe it would involve moving. 

We hired a couple of young men, who have done work for us before, to take down one tent, and move the other to Joyce Park yesterday (February 26th). Rain was being predicted over the next few days, and I did not want to have to deal with wet tents. Keith Mulder, mayor of Grand Ledge, stopped by in the midst of this to let me know he had read this page, and had some conversation with others about the situation. We spoke about the impersonal way the use of computers have affected almost everything. At one point, the boys came over and indicated they thought they could move the one tent without disassembling it entirely if they could get some extra help. The mayor stepped right in and helped us move it. For a moment, nasty letters generated by computers faded in the light of where small towns usually find their strengths. Person to person. I grew up in what is referred to as downriver Detroit. When I moved into Grand Ledge to become the State Farm agent, I figured we might live above the office I bought for a couple of years, then look for a place out in the country. That was almost fifty years ago. I now live in the house next to that office, and the office is now a spiritual resource center. I think of Grand Ledge as my hometown, even though I did not grow up here. It feels like home. I think it can remain that way if it remembers its roots, and has the wisdom to listen to people like Mayor Keith Mulder, who sets an example rather than just rhetoric. We still have some issues to figure out, because winter will come around again next year. We have been pretty blessed this year. But, on a mostly fixed income, and with the cost of even used automobiles higher than ever, we need to protect our older cars as best we can, for as long as we can. And, like Gregory Newman our city clerk, I too hope we can find a solution. 



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