Man ticketed after living in camper on his land

TOMPKINS TOWNSHIP, MI (WILX) -- When medical bills forced Robert Sharp to sell his home in 2018, he ended up on this 19-acre plot in Jackson County's Tompkins Township.

“I bought this with my own money. It’s right by my parents old house. It’s the neighborhood I grew up in and I always wanted to stay here,” Sharp said.

A former construction worker-- retired after several spinal surgeries. Sharp got his permit to build a house in December of 2018. As of Monday, little to nothing is built.

“The weather since I dug the hole on May 4Th has done nothing but rain every other day, which makes it incredibly hard to pour concrete because it will mess up the ground, make it settle,” Sharp said. “So I’m just waiting for some good days and plus I only get paid once a month.”
He says the Tompkins Township Supervisor said he could live in his fifth wheel camper until his house was ready, but in may he got a ticket in the mail.

“It said right on it for zoning violations. I know there are zoning violations with campers. I have looked it up but I feel if you’re doing the right thing and trying to get your house done and it’s your property. I don’t see what the big deal is,” Sharp said. “As you can see on my property I don’t have a bunch of junk here. I’m not trying to bring everybody’s property value down. If anything I’m trying to make their property value worth more.”

Sharp has been living in his camper for what will be a year in late June.
According to Jackson County zoning regulations, that’s four months too long.

He also needs water and a septic system. He also is not living in a principle structure or residence for more than 51% of the year. That residence is not built yet.

The only permission he says he has is the Township Supervisor’s word.
“If you’re going to single me out you’ve got to single out everybody else,” Sharp said.

Down the road, a mile away from his land, another camper sits in the yard of a house in- progress.

“There’s several,” Sharp said. “There’s one on Hopcraft road five minutes from my house, there’s one Onedega road two minutes from my house, I mean they’re everywhere in Tompkins Township.”

The Township Supervisor says the maximum fine for the ticket is five-hundred dollars with no jail time.

However, Sharp says that between building his house, court and medical fees, he doesn’t have the money and has no place to go.

“I have been here a little longer than he wanted but the whole issue is, I’m basically homeless and I needed this place. It’s what’s going to get me to my house,” Sharp said.

The Township Supervisor declined to talk any more about the situation because it is ongoing.

Sharp’s court arraignment is in July.

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