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      Homeowner takes on neighborhood association over road maintenance

      It looks and sounds like the perfect place to retire...a home nestled on the coast of Lake Superior in Shelter Bay. But the inability to access this prime location during the winter months has led homeowner Thomas Bowler into a bitter legal fight.

      "What started out to be my retirement dream actually has become a dream nightmare," said Thomas Bowler.

      In 1997, Bowler had built his home on Shore Road in a new development called Laughing Whitefish Point located off of M-28. During that time, the original developers, Benson Forest Products, maintained and plowed Shore Road including the access road leading to Bowler's driveway.

      However, in 2001, the landowner's association, which Bowler voted in favor of creating, no longer continued the maintenance of the access road.

      "Any change in policies, I was not made aware of," Bowler claimed. "Had I known they would change the road maintenance provision, I definitely wouldn't have joined."

      Bowler says because the road leading to his driveway is buried in snow during the winter, emergency crews cannot immediately access his property, and propane can only be filled during the warmer months.

      A fed up Bowler has refused to pay $6,000 in unpaid dues to the association, and now he's being taken to court.

      "Since they failed to provide maintenance on my tributary roads so I can get to my parcel down below, I feel as though it's a wash," Bowler said.

      Thomas Clark, who represents the association, says the association has no obligation to continue the maintenance.

      In court documents, Clark wrote, "Laughing Whitefish Point owners were all faced with the reality that they would all be on their own when Benson ceased providing services."

      At almost 70 years of age, Bowler says he's got enough fight in him to not back down.

      "At my age, I've tended to hold it back, but I'm willing to spend every nickel I got left remaining to carry this forward in the courts," a defiant Bowler remarked.