Federal agency investigating alleged discrimination by Bay View Association
EMMET COUNTY, Mich, (WPBN/WGTU) -- The Bay View Association, a group of summer cottages right by Petoskey, is currently in the middle of a lawsuit with some of its members who say the association needs to be more inclusive.
Now, in a separate case, Bay View is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Last year, we spoke to Don Duquette, who has owned a cottage in Bay View for 35 years and has wanted to see the rules change since he found out he can't hand his cottage down to his daughter.
"She's married to a great guy who grew up Methodist, but they currently don't go to any church, and because they don't go to any active Christian church, she could never inherit our cottage, and I'd like to be able to leave the cottage to her and maybe my grandson someday who's four," Duquette said.
Right now, to own property in the association you need to be a practicing Christian, and you need proof that you regularly attend church.
Bay View was given the authority to make rules like that under the 1889 Summer Resort Act, a Michigan law that also allowed the association to do other things like collect taxes.
Don and more than a dozen other cottage owners have filed a lawsuit against the Bay View Association in hopes the rules will be changed.
Earlier this month, HUD sent a letter to Bay View's attorney saying it is going to investigate alleged discrimination.
The letter says that HUD "Has determined that the Respondent Bay View Association has not met its burden to prove it is exempt from the federal Fair Housing Act. The investigation into the violations alleged by the Complainants shall now commence."
Bay View's attorney, Mike Bogren, sent us a statement responding to that letter.
“The complaints of discrimination filed with HUD are the same as the Title VIII claims asserted in the lawsuit. These are the same claims that were previously filed with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights in 2014 or 2015. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights at that time found no basis for a determination that religious discrimination occurred in violation of state or federal law. Since the letter from HUD provides absolutely no analysis to support the conclusion Bay View did not prove it is exempt, it is impossible to understand why HUD has now apparently disagreed with the prior MDCR decision. It should also be pointed out that the HUD letter simply states that an investigation will proceed. There has been no finding of discrimination.”
HUD is not saying much more about this case right now, since it has just launched its investigation.