Livonia business owner gets 30 days in jail for illegal fence

Christopher Martin would not remove 7-foot iron fence which is illegal in Livonia

LIVONIA, Mich. - Christopher Martin was convicted last June for failing to remove a 7-foot wrought iron fence which he put along the side of his Livonia business and the expanded parking lot in the back.

Gary Reynolds has lived on Inkster Road for decades and is just a few doors down from Martin's cement statue business.

"I don't think it was all that fair," said Reynolds. "The business has been here for 40 years or so. I don't see any problem, why he couldn't have his fence."

But the city of Livonia disagreed. The illegal fence was taken down shortly before Martin's probation hearing this week, during which a judge sent him to jail for 30 days for failing to comply.

"We have ordinances for a reason and we apply them uniformly," said Donald Knapp, Livonia city attorney. "Mr. Martin certainly isn't being singled out."

Martin's appeal was denied by both the Wayne County Circuit Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals. Livonia officials say Martin is a repeat offender with violations on other properties dating back to 2009.


"And it's only after repeated efforts to try to have somebody come into compliance with our ordinances -- again we apply them uniformly -- that we have to take the drastic action of taking them to court and filing a complaint," said Knapp.

Martin told neighbors he felt he had no choice but to put up the fence illegally after some of his statues were stolen.

"The neighborhood's changed a lot and people started stealing his statues and that's what led to him putting up the wrought iron fence," said Reynolds.

Neighbors say nearby business have fences but that is Redford Township limits and another nearby yard with a fence is owned by Wayne County.

Livonia has no jurisdiction in both.


This video was posted to YouTube on May 7, 2012. In it, Martin explains why and where he placed the fence around the business and the parking lot.

"I bought this statue business in the city of Livonia on Inkster and Grantland. I bought it in 2005. It was a bank foreclosure," Martin says in the video.

Martin says he needed to secure the property because he had a lot of theft since buying it.

"People jumping over that 4-foot cyclone (fence) in the evening and stealing things from me," he says.

He says he needs the 7-foot wrought iron fence "to actually stay in business."

You can view the Livonia code of ordinances for fences here.

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