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Court Gives Tavern at Tina's Until Oct. 15 to Build Bypass Lane or Close

Having missed the court's previous deadline to construct the lane opposite their property on North Avenue, the Imbronone sisters now have until Oct. 15 to build the lane and reimburse Macomb for court costs accumulated during the dispute.

If owners of The Tavern at Tina’s fail to comply with the latest orders from a  Macomb County Circuit Court judge, their business will be closed on Oct. 15.

Ruling in the case of TTCH Development LLC vs. Macomb Township, Judge James Biernat, Jr. ordered TTCH (Tina's owners) to build a southbound bypass lane opposite the tavern's property on North Avenue and pay court costs accumulated by Macomb Township during the dispute by 5 p.m. Oct. 15 or face closure, according to court documents.

These orders stem from the January 2011 consent judgment signed by TTCH Development and Macomb Township following some three years of legal disputes. Per the consent judgment, Tina’s owners, sisters Cathy and Mary Jo Imbronone, had until June 1 to build a bypass lane on the west side of North Avenue.

When the deadline passed and the work was not completed, Macomb Township's legal counsel asked the court to hold TTCH Development in contempt of court and costs.

On Aug. 29, Biernat ruled to give TTCH Development until Sept. 24 to complete the work. When that deadline passed and the work was still not completed on Sept. 25, the judge ordered TTCH Development to reimburse the township for approximately $4,500 in court costs and attorney fees. 

Richard Taubman, attorney for TTCH Development, said the Imbronone sisters have engaged a contractor at this time and work is expected to begin next week.

“They have been issued a permit by the (Macomb County Department of Roads) and they are going to do everything they can to facilitate the work,” he said. “I hope this is the end, I really do. I think my clients do also.”

While Taubman could not speak to the total cost of construction, he said his clients have had to borrow money to cover the expense.

“It is no secret my clients have been struggling financially,” he said. “They have had to borrow from an individual to pay for the work. This has really taken them to the edge. They’ve been unable to get bank support.”

If by 5 p.m. Oct. 15, the bypass lane is installed, inspected and approved per the plans of the Macomb County Department of Roads, the case will be closed.

Should an event beyond TTCH's control prevent construction of the bypass lane, TTCH may file an emergency motion to have the court review the issue. But if TTCH fails to comply with the court's orders for any other reason, The Tavern at Tina's will be closed at 5 p.m. Oct. 15 and remain closed until the work is done and payments submitted.

Lisa G September 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM
This issue confuses me. Do other businesses have to build passing lanes in front of their buildings? Is that standard procedure in our area?
Bill Braski September 26, 2012 at 11:11 AM
I am so sick and tired of reading about the Imbronone sisters. Everyone is always picking on them. The Township, the lawyers, the judges, the Health Department, it's all one big conspiracy. Has anyone ever considered that maybe they're just not business smart? They have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the Twp. and lost every battle. If they just complied like they were supposed to do, they wouldn't be in this situation and probably have a lot more money in the bank. You can't always be the victims. These malcontents just don't like to follow rules! You reap what you sow.Thank God, they didn't get control of Twp. Hall, we'd be broke in no time. Finally, a judge with a big enough set, has to set them straight. Do what you agreed to do seventeen months ago, or shut down! I say good riddance, and take your friends, Lame Duck Grabow and Kelvin Kookwowicz with you.
kidcat24 September 26, 2012 at 11:22 AM
I was wondering the same thing Lisa. I bet not.
Michelle September 26, 2012 at 11:32 AM
This is how the officials in Macomb Township treat small businesses in their community. Its a shame and an embarrassment. Stop putting the same idiots on the board and maybe the township could move forward! Look at all the b.s they put DQ through....there are many more stories like this. Patch should interview more business owners and get the real stories on how the board makes it very difficult on any business owner . Why would anyone want to come here and open a business???
HappyVoter September 26, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Michelle, I think you're mistaken... the "idiots" here are the Imbronones. This isn't the board picking on them... they AGREED TO DO THIS to settle their latest (third?) lawsuit against the township that they were losing again, and they agreed to it back in January. They had until September to get it done and they did nothing. Something tells me that Cathy was hoping she'd win in the primary and then somehow be able to get the other members of the new board to vacate the consent agreement. So much for her just running for the good of the township. The township board, in my opinion, isn't in the business of giving people a hard time just for the heck of it. There are rules in place (zoning, etc.) governing what these businesses can do. If they play by the rules, the board HAS TO approve what they're doing. If they try to cut corners just to save a few bucks, they end up having a hard time. In this case, it's comical... as Bill said above, if they'd have just done what they were supposed to do in the first place, this would have been a non-issue years ago and they'd have spent much less money. Instead, they've managed to convince gullible people like Michelle apparently is that they're the poor victims and the township board is out to get them. I call BS, just as the court has, just as the road commission has, just as the health department has. It's time for them to put up or shut up.
Liz MacDonald September 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM
I can't believe this is going on, is that area that busy that they have to have a bypass lane?? I thought that would be something the township should build not a buisness owner, does not seem fair to me, I would think the township would be trying to help out buisness's so they can stay in the area. I also would like to hear from some other buisness owners in the township.
Fred Hahnel September 26, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Great idea, Macomb. Shut down a thriving business. That 'ell show them. Don't collect property taxes after you shut them down. Brilliant idea. Maybe they are just doing the same thing those that promised us 24 Mile between Card and North would be open on Labor Day weekend. And what about the bridge reconstruction at 23 Mile and North?
Concerned Taxpayer September 26, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I hate to say it but this Tina's thing looks like the Township is a big bully. Let the business thrive and continue to pay taxes and serve the community. Reminds me of some sort of thing that would happen in High School... come on.. move on Macomb Township.
Concerned Taxpayer September 26, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I was wondering the same thing.
Nicole m September 26, 2012 at 02:07 PM
The township is not helpful to small businesses. I'm a manager of small business( scoop & twist ice cream) and all they cause is grief. Can't put a sign on the road, and the latest was this past summer when we had a birthday bash, and a fundraiser for Immanuel Lutheran church to help build baseball diamonds. They wanted to issue us a fine for having a bounce house without a permit. A permit costs 500 dollars way more than we can afford which is sad because every summer we like to do one big fundraiser and the bounce house brings business and allows us to make more money for whatever cause we are fundraising for. It's a shame that they have to hold us back from raising money for the community.
Joyce Black September 26, 2012 at 02:44 PM
So much unemployment and good old Macomb Twp wants to create more. Tinas Country House has been doing business for years in Macomb, paying taxes and employing local people and the township will not complete this "by-pass" lane.............Just sad! By the way the so called by pass is not necessary.
Liz MacDonald September 26, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Very sad, you would think the township would do whatever they could to support a fundraiser. We need to hear from more small buisness.
Liz MacDonald September 26, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I didnt think so either, sounds like they are just trying to give Tina's a hard time
AST September 26, 2012 at 03:26 PM
We voted this board in, folks. Only hope for change comes with active participation in our local government meetings, active participation in educating our fellow residents during election time. And until we figure out how to vote out the current board members, they will continue to appoint and re-appoint themselves to seats when they retire.
Jenny Whalen (Editor) September 26, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Just a reminder. Patch provides this comment section as a forum for discussion. When the discussion violates our Terms of Service, we reserve the right to delete comments. On a related issue: I realize not everyone uses their real names in online comments, but those who deliberately use the name of another to misguide other readers will be banned from the site.
MJ Imbronone September 26, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Two weeks and it will all be done. Thank God. to Bill Braski and Happy Voter We are very smart, successful business women. We did nothing wrong....if anyone followed the last 5 years of litagation, it is clear that the Macomb Twp Board's only purpose was to drain all the money that they could and try to close us down. My sister did not run for any special favors, actually I am happy she did not win. I could not run two businesses alone, But what we have accomplished is exposing the current board members for who they really are. It has cost us hundreds of thousands, but it was worth the battle. The residents, our customers know who we really are. Two hard working girls trying to live the American Dream. Special thanks to all of our customers, who now most have become friends for their support and patronage. We will continue to provide good food, fair prices, good service, employment, paying sales and property taxes. It will be a while to we get back to where we were. We may have lost the battle in some eyes, but in most they are proud that two independent business owners won the war.
Liz MacDonald September 26, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Its a shame that the township is so hard on a buisness especially with so many going out of buisness, you would think they would be trying to help. My son and his wife had their reception at Tina's and after 10 years, we still talke about how good the fun was and what a beautiful wedding he had at Tina's.
Billy Shears September 26, 2012 at 09:08 PM
MJ, what a compelling story, living the american dream and all. It sounds like you and your sister are a modern day Laverne and Shirley. First off, do you really think the Twp. put all that thought into making you go broke? What would the Twp. possibly gain from that ? That's just nonsense. As far as you being happy your sister didn't win, no one's happier than the residents to be spared of that debacle. As for you winning the war, are you nuts? By your own admission, you have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in five years and you still were ordered by the court to do exactly what was expected of you from day one. If you consider that a victory, congratulations! As for Joyce Black, you are now qualified to say where bypass lanes are needed and not needed? When did you become an engineer for the Dept. of Roads? Finally to Nicole M, of course you need a permit to put up a bounce house. What if that house fell over and injured some kid ? The Twp. Board is elected to look out for the health, safety and welfare of our residents. Odinances are in place for a reason. Most businesses have no problems with the Twp. Unfortunately, you only hear from the minority, who don't want to play by the rules.
Christopher Barger September 26, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Liz - yes, it IS that busy. I live on 23 Mile very close to Tina's, and the backups from the intersection at 23 & North during rush hour frequently extend almost all the way back to Card. Not an exaggeration. It takes, during rush hour, anywhere between 5-10 minutes just for my neighbors and I to be able to simply get out of our subdivision due to the traffic on 23. Not that this is all the fault of Tina's -- the township has woefully underestimated or underobserved the traffic and isn't taking any steps to alleviate it, and of course the ordered bypass is on North and not 23, but I can attest from living on this road that the area IS that busy.
AST September 26, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Billy Shears, you seem like a women-hater to me. Is that the case?
jamie marick September 26, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Billy, you are better off asking the Township why they are so hell bent on keeping Tina's out of business. My family has also had ridiculous experiences with the current when comes to conducting business in the township. They run as republicans and govern as liberals. As a supporter of the challengers to the current board, I was disappointed none of them won. However, I am way happier seeing the current board under investigation by the Michigan State police for election fraud than actually seeing the challangers win.
Samuel Franklin September 26, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Local govt. loves to bleed small businesses for all they can. We used to have an annual 3 day tent sale outside/behind our building (not in Macomb Twp., but close). Then the city decided we needed parking surveys from the engineering dept, tent permits, fire dept. inspections (It's a tent w/out walls, the exit is in ANY direction), temporary sign permits and such. The Parking survey alone was $400! The fine for such lawbreaking? $75 a day. Yeah, go ahead and fine us! What the local govt. needs to do is treat these things with a common sense approach. A $500 permit for a bounce house? Seriously? "What if it fell over and injured some kid?" <Well, i guess that would be on the store owners and their insurance company. Oh, and what does the business owner get for that $500? A five minute visit from an inspector with a clipboard and a measuring tape. "Here's your permit, make the check payable to......".
jamie marick September 26, 2012 at 11:53 PM
It is just the same people I saw posting on here during the elections, that will defend this current board no matter what they do. Putting people out of business- defend them. Losing tax revenue by putting businesses out of business- defend them. Putting workers out of work- defend them. Some poor kid accuses them of using township resources to collect election signatures- defend them. Raise water rates-defend them. Actually lie to us before the election saying "they closed negotations on the court moving here" then after the election re-open the negotiations after they are voted back in- defend them. Apperently even when the state police have turned in their investigation of voter fraud to the prosecuter- they still defend them. Can they do no wrong?
Fred Hahnel September 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Christopher, To your comment about traffic on 23 Mile Road, that is absolutely true and only seems to have worsened because of the 'updated' traffic signals. I travel north on North Avenue for at least six years every afternoon around 6 pm. The traffic NEVER backed up more than about 15 cars behind the 23 Mile light. Now with the "upgraded" lights, I'm seeing regularly northbound backups sometimes to 22 Mile Road. The township is so concerned about a lousy bypass lane, they need to widen North and 23!
Liz MacDonald September 27, 2012 at 12:48 PM
My son lives at 23 & Card & I know that 23 Mile is a very busy street. I try not to go in that area during rush hour because forget it, the traffic is terrible. You are right Fred, they need to do something, if its the lights ajust them, the township should be more worried about the traffic jams on 23 Mile because the area has grown so much then the bypass by Tina's
whatthefrack September 27, 2012 at 09:35 PM
If any of you have been paying attention to 23 Mile at all, you may have noticed all of those cables across the road. They are currently doing a survey about widening 23 Mile to 5 lanes like it is west of Romeo Plank.
HappyVoter September 29, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Jamie... just like it's the same people on here trying to defend the indefensible actions of the Imbronones and their buddy John Johnson? A few people have referenced Tina's Country House, which is a long-standing business...they've been catering there for years and years, and by all accounts doing a good job. This fiasco started when they decided to buy the old Mutt & Jeff's and open a bar/restaurant there... Great, not a bad idea. However, as you should know as a business owner, when you are starting a new business (or even substantially changing an old one) you are responsible for following zoning and building code rules. This includes things like sewer service and traffic management. The township doesn't make these rules up as they go, and the Imbronones knew what they were getting into when they bought the place... if they didn't, they should look elsewhere for their advice. Now, years later, they've ended up spending more money than they would have had to spend to just follow the rules in the first place (rules that have been in place longer than the board members), and it's all because they're too stubborn and prideful to just do the right thing. But yeah, if that's "winning the war", then good for them. If they win a few more wars they'll be broke.

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