Lake Isabella Property Owners Association


Lake Isabella Association

About Us

Our History

From an early publication, we read a recipe for happiness….

Take an 800-acre lake… Garnish with an 18-hole golf course and Clubhouse… Add 14 miles of sand beaches… Add acres of trees and flowers… Add 2 Pans, 3 Bulldozers, 4 Pickups… Sprinkle in deer, beaver, squirrels, fish, birds, woodchuck, etc…. Mix in 25 miles of roads… Measure 5,000 acres (and growing)… Stir in tile drains, grass, parks, a pro shop, tennis courts, swim pool, boats… Sprinkle in 60 horses… Add a huge dam… Now you toss in the main ingredient, PEOPLE!

….and here it is- Lake Isabella Paradise Pie!

Mix the business savvy of two brothers Golden, and Nephi Grigg, and the dream of Leo Gatehouse and you build a development of some 4500 acres 800 of which have been developed into a lake, located in the heart of the property.

Golden and Nephi Griggs began their business life as teens selling produce door to door. They eventually had their own farm, then a dairy, a restaurant, an appliance store, an insurance and real estate business, and a fresh produce business. One of their largest produce consumers, the Oregon-based Bridgeford Company went bankrupt. In 1951 the brothers bought the company at the sheriff’s auction and entered the fledgling frozen food industry. After buying a food processing plant and eventually renaming it Ore-Ida Potato Products, Inc. and in the late 1950s expanding into 4 states including Michigan they sold it to H. J. Heinz Company.

Looking around for another venture Golden and Nephi plunged in again. This time into land development. Not a regular land development but a project of monumental size that required the damming of a river to make an 800-acre lake. The dam, whether it is still, was the largest man-made dam in Michigan. The project was to be a recreational complex extraordinaire, the queen of Inland Lakes.

The original corporation, the Lake Isabella Corporation (LIC ), was incorporated on December 1, 1966. There have been a number of individuals involved in the creation of Lake Isabella as we know it today; some are familiar names and some are not. Besides Gatehouse, early names Peake, McClintic, Dutcher, Stacey, Losey, Bowerman, and Ruddell, might be familiar, and so might Shoemaker, Torgerson, Serum, Damitio.

In 1969, the Lake Isabella Property Owners Association was organized and the Articles of Incorporation were filed and signed by Arlen D. Beck, Jerry A. Chittenden, H.E. Serum, and Otis E. Smith. Also appointed was the first Board of Directors- Arlen D. Beck, Robert Deckard, Ken Torgeson, Fred Arnamen, and Forrest Amstutz. The Association could now formally act as one voice for members when talking with developers, townships, and others. In 1972, the Association explored the possibility of forming a Village, but the time was not right. In 1992 the possibility of establishing a Village once again began to be explored cumulating in the 1998 chartering of the (home rule) Village of Lake Isabella.

Historically it is worth noting that the September 1989 L.I.P.O.A. Newsletter reported, among other things that in 1982, the Lake Isabella Corporation (LIC) filed for bankruptcy. “In 1987, the Bankruptcy judge allowed the sale of Lake Isabella Corporation’s assets to Lake Isabella Development, Inc. LIDI) a corporation set up by two of the same officers who were running the Lake Isabella Corporation. Lake Isabella Development, Inc., in 1989, sold the Golf Course to three individuals and also sold the remainder of the assets purchased from Bankruptcy to two individuals on a land contract. These two individuals then formed another Corporation, called “Venture I Development” and then deeded the assets in their contract to Venture I. We have since learned that one of the same officers of Lake Isabella Corporation and Lake Isabella Development, Inc. also has some stock interest in Venture I Development…. Many problems have arisen due to these transactions”.

A review of the past gives us an insight as to why L.I.P.O.A. members and other persons owning land at Lake Isabella feel passionately about protecting the beauty and ambiance of the area. Looking at the past to help develop the future gives us insight as to why persons such as Bill Dunham, Jerry Gaudette, Ed Spayd, Ken Torgerson, Kathy McGee, Tom DeBoer, Jackie Adkins, Becky Thornhill, and many others spent so many hours, days, and weeks working to enhance and compliment the efforts of the L.I.P.O.A. by creating the Village of Lake Isabella. This public body allows the capture of monies that enable improvement in infrastructure such as roads and establish official zoning procedures, it allows more effective ways to deal with two different townships for things such as bringing residential gas to the area. To review it is important to keep in mind that the Village was formed, not to supersede or negate the L.I.P.O.A. but rather to enhance the area through ways the L.I.P.O.A. did not have at its disposal. To protect the privacy of our lake, the natural beauty, and the feeling of being one with nature while yet providing creature comforts in an orderly manner for all, the residents, the L.I.P.O.A., the Village, the housing, and land developers must work and plan together. We have the opportunity and more importantly the responsibility to avoid opportunistic development and the polluting of the area with excessive noise, light, and visual symbols of the “city”.

The L.I.P.O.A. bylaws provide the mission of the organization and stipulate the operational procedures. The Association properties provide for relaxing and recreational opportunities, they allow us to maintain the limited access to the lake and provide the land for launching and docking sites for members. In addition, the Association provides for orderly maintenance and use of the facilities under its control. In an effort to best serve its membership the L.I.P.O.A. meets periodically with Village representatives to foster and maintain positive relationships of mutual interests and concern.

The purpose of the LIPOA shall be to:

  1. Protect and provide for the general welfare of all who live and own property at Lake Isabella.
  2. To place emphasis on recreation, health, safety, and environmental concerns
  3. To develop and maintain all common properties.

The L.I.P.O.A. is governed by a Board of Directors and is supported by various Board of Director Committees made of L.I.P.O.A. members.

The Lake Isabella Property Owners Association (LIPOA) is a private, non-profit corporation. We own land and buildings and pay taxes on these properties. The LIPOA owns the bottom land under Lake Isabella, however, we do not own or control the actual water, which is public. The Department of Natural Resources and the Village have responsibility for public areas. However, because the Association owns the “park areas” there is limited access to the lake.

The LIPOA Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Michigan in November of 1969; they state the purpose of the Association. The Bylaws of the LIPOA are the working documents of the Association. The preamble is our Statement of Purpose. Emphasis is placed on recreation, health, safety, environmental concerns, and the development and maintenance of all common properties. The Bylaws further state that the affairs of the Association shall be managed by its elected BOARD OF DIRECTORS. The Association employs an administrator to run the day-to-day activities and to manage regular and seasonal personnel hired to maintain the parks and facilities owned.

The LIPOA also provides CAMPING FACILITIES and a STORAGE AREA for members and has responsibilities concerning the dam. The association owns the LIPOA office building which thanks to the hard work of the staff and member volunteers was given a much-needed interior face-lift in late 2007. Various activities provided for association members are generally announced in the newsletter and on this continuously updated website.

The LIPOA Board does not have the power of law, but along with the Manager meets with and lobbies various public bodies to act in a particular way concerning Association interests. Your Board of Directors attempts to keep it and the general members educated through membership in organizations such as the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association.

The Village of Lake Isabella is a public body and does have the power of law. It was established by state law and is governed by an elected Village Council. A Planning Commission and various committees and boards assist the Council in the operation of the Village. The general duties of the Council, by Charter, are to provide for the public peace, health, safety, and the general welfare of persons and property. All legislation is by Ordinance or by Resolution of the Council. The Council employs people separate from the LIPOA. The Council has the power to levy and collect taxes for municipal purposes. The Council has the power to determine the necessity of local or public improvements and to establish special assessment districts. It has the right and power to develop and maintain public utilities. All things done are for the good of the public. If the Village were to control the “park areas” anyone, Village residents or not, would have equal access and use of the parks and therefore uncontrolled access to the lake.

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Manager – George King
Office Staff – Alicia Garrett
Maintenance Staff – Rod Church, Don Hall, Darcey Jones