Ford Jensen, whom Cass County maintains built his cabin on tax-forfeited county-administered land, described in a telephone interview Tuesday, Nov. 26, reasons he believes his cabin is on the adjacent land he owns.
The county board voted Nov. 5 to hire a special prosecutor to take Jensen to court over the issue, asking him to remove the cabin from county land.
During the interview, Jensen said he believes the issue partially exists because there are fewer front feet of land on the ground in West’s Breezy Heights plat on IXL Lake than shown on the paper drawing of the 24-lot plat, which was recorded in 1924.
He says he owns Lots 21 and 22. The county says it owns Lots 23 and 24. Each of the four lots shows 60 feet of lake frontage on the plat drawing.
Jensen blames a disparity between actual land space and the plat drawing for contributing to the problem.
If you count front feet on the ground from Lot 1, there is not enough land left for Lot 23 or most of Lot 24, Jensen said.
He thinks the county is looking at the platted area on the ground from Lot 24, which could make it appear part or all of his cabin is on county property.
If you measure on the ground from Lot 24 back to Lot 1, it would also mean someone at the other end of the plat would not have the land they think they do. It also could mean many of Jensen’s neighbors between Lots 1 and 20 may have built some of their buildings on their neighbor’s land, Jensen said.
Jensen said he bought his property from the Stainbrook family by trading his partial interest in an airplane for the land. His deed was recorded in 1970, he said.
Jensen said following his land purchase, he obtained county land use permits in 1972 to build a cabin and install a sewer system, in 1981 for a second cabin and in 2004 for an addition to the first cabin. He said the county inspected his building site after each structure was built.
He said no one questioned the location of either cabin at that time.
Further, he has received annual tax bills from the county showing the cabins as being on the Lots 21 and 22 as he believes they are, he said, adding he has paid those taxes annually.
County Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson told the county board Nov. 5 that he had offered Jensen five options to resolve the issue, with one being to purchase the county property. He said Jensen had not responded to those options.
Jensen said he did respond, but, “I just don’t want to do any of them.”
“We feel we already own the lots our cabins are on,” he said, adding he views the county’s appraised asking price to sell the county lots to him as “exorbitant.”
Jensen questioned why it took the county 30 or 40 years to raise the issue. He thinks if the county questioned his cabin placement, the question should have been raised when he obtained his building permits.
Jensen also owns two outlots on the other side of the county lots.
According to records on the county website, Lots 23 and 24 were forfeited in 1987. The website also cites existence of, but does not make available for viewing, a boundary line agreement for the county-administered property from 1978 that was recorded in 1980.
Jensen thinks that agreement relates to the two outlots he owns on the other side of Lots 23 and 24. Those lie between West’s Breezy Heights and another plat.