Mixed Use dispute: condo owners ask judge to shut down bar business

Bar owner, Lyndsay Edmonds, countersues condo association. Judge orders bar to turn off loud music.

Updated Dec. 25, 2017

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Bay City, Michigan, is the site of another typical legal dispute between commercial and residential unit owners of a mixed use condominium association.

According to reports in Bay City News, the 12-unit Shearer Block Condo Onwer’s Association is suing Edmonds Properties LLC, owner of the ground floor bar, Harless + Hugh Public House. Condo owners haved complained bitterly about excessive noise from patrons of the pub, as well as odors from the kitchen exhaust system that waft just outside their windows.

The lawsuit seeks a court order to shut down current operation of the bar business, based upon multiple violations of condo association restrictions and rules against creating a nuisance.

Condo owners sue to close downtown Bay City bar

Updated 5:35 AM; Posted 5:35 AM

BAY CITY, MI — A group of downtown Bay City residents is trying to shut down a recently opened craft cocktail bar on the ground level of their building, alleging noise from the establishment is keeping them up at night.

The Shearer Block Condominium Owner’s Association on Friday, Nov. 3, filed a lawsuit against Edmonds Properties LLC in Bay County Circuit Court. Edmonds Properties is the limited liability corporation of Lyndsay Edmonds, owner of Harless + Hugh Public House. The bar is located at 811 Adams St. on the first floor of the Shearer Building, beneath 12 occupied condos. It opened June 2.

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Lyndsay Edmonds, the business owner, has responded with a countersuit of her own against Shearer Block Condo Owner’s Association. Lyndsay says she has attempted to work out a compromise with residential condo owners, offering to add soundproofing and exhaust pipes to divert objectionable fumes from the kitchen. But the condo association has rejected her proposed solutions.

Edmonds owns several other businesses in the area, and Lyndsay claims to have invested $400,000 in the Public House of the Shearer Building. She is understandably frustrated by attempts to shut down Public House after less than one year in business.


Bay City bar countersues condo owners for harassment

Updated Nov 29, 10:50 AM; Posted Nov 29, 5:35 AM

By Cole Waterman cwaterma@mlive.com
BAY CITY, MI — The owner of a downtown Bay City bar targeted in a lawsuit by its upstairs neighbors for being too loud has filed a countersuit, alleging the condo owners are perpetuating a campaign of harassment against them.

Representing Edmonds Properties LLC and Harless + Hugh Public House, attorney Matthew B. Hewitt on Monday, Nov. 27, filed the countersuit against the Shearer Building Condominium Owner’s Association in Bay County Circuit Court. The Public House is located on the first floor of the Shearer Building at 811 Adams St. and opened in June.

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Music temporarily silenced at Bay City bar amid lawsuit

Updated Dec 19; Posted Dec 19

By Cole Waterman cwaterma@mlive.com
BAY CITY, MI — Condominium residents in downtown Bay City have successfully obtained a court order prohibiting a bar located in their building from playing music, at least temporarily.

Following a hearing held Thursday, Dec. 14, before Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran, attorneys representing the Shearer Building Condominium Owner’s Association and Harless + Hugh Public House came to two temporary agreements in their negotiations.

First, the bar “shall not play, broadcast, amplify or in any manner allow music on the premises of its Condominium Units.” In addition, the bar’s owner, Lyndsay Edmonds, is ordered to disconnect and remove the subwoofer and speakers from the establishment.

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What happened here?

A 2014 report in Bay City Times announced the sale of commercial units in Shearer, and plans to use the space for an upscale cocktail bar.

In other words, condo owners knew or should have known they were purchasing condos situated above a downtown bar. Under those circumstances, wouldn’t it be reasonable for a buyer to expect some noise in the evening hours?

On the other hand, from the condo association’s point of view, Edmonds should have known that a bar business would certainly violate condominium noise and nuisance restrictions and covenants. And, since Shearer has had difficulty keeping commercial tenants, with several businesses failing since the condo association’s inception, shouldn’t that have raised some serious doubts for an experienced commercial buyer?

One important point made in these reports: condo unit owners have absolutely no control over who buys commercial units, nor do they have any input as to the type of business that will be conducted from the ground floor.

And as long as there are no municipal or deed restrictions against a potentially noisy and disruptive business directly below or adjacent to residential housing, conflict is bound to occur.

This is why it was common, in the past, for a bar or shop owner to keep his or her own residence upstairs, or perhaps rent the space to a tenant who would not object to the inconveniences caused by the business owner’s normal daily operation.

Sometimes condo owners tend to feel more entitled to absolute peace and quiet, free from disturbances and inconveniences that are a normal part of urban life.

But Shearer Block Condo owners need to stop and consider that, as long as commercial units remain vacant, or their businesses unprofitable, the association can expect a significant deficit from uncollected condominium assessments.

And when downtown becomes more like a ghost town, how will that affect property values?

The point is, perhaps the utopian mixed use concept of a vibrant downtown, walkable neighborhood that has been sold to consumers in the past two decades is neither realistic nor practical, especially when commercial and residential owners cannot seem to get along.

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