Judge’s ruling may bring an end to the impasse


ALMONT — The Almont Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has won its years-long lawsuit to establish ownership of 12 parking spaces in the lot behind the former Lane-Swayze Clinic.

Pictured above are the parking spaces behind the former Lane-Swayze in Almont, whose ownership was recently determined to belong to the Almont Downtown Development Authority.

It was in January of 2019, that local businessman Steve Francis and Attorney Steven C. Schneider (on behalf of his late father-in-law Dr. Robert Lane) challenged the DDA’s ownership of the parking spaces.

In June of 2021, Lapeer County Circuit Court Judge Nick Holowka ruled in favor of the DDA’s ownership.

However, it was not until two weeks ago that DDA ownership was officially established.

Holowka’s ruling validates the DDA Board’s longheld claim that the parking spaces belonged to them.

The decision also represents a win for former DDA Director Kim Schall, who had maintained that the DDA paid off a land contract for the property dating back to 1994-1996.

It was Schall’s position that despite having paid off the $55,000 land contract years ago, the DDA was never issued a deed for the property.

In January 2019, a dispute arose among the DDA Board, Dr. Lane and Steve Francis, when inconsistencies were found in the DDA’s records regarding the 1996 land contract agreement, past taxes and ownership of the property, including the parking spaces.

At that time, and amidst an effort by some to dissolve the DDA, the DDA Board agreed to place the matter in the hands of an independent mediator in hopes that a mutually acceptable agreement could be forged between Francis and Dr. Lane.

That option was scuttled when the mediator suggested the matter go back to the DDA’s attorney, Michael Whaling of Port Huron, for his further consultation.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.