Landmark Bistro, neighbors battle over property lines

Jill and Larry Krausman, the owners of the Landmark Bistro (pictured), are currently embroiled in a legal battle with their neighbors, Linda and David Bertram, over property lines, a grease vent and water runoff, among other points of contention. The case will head to Grundy County District Court in November. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo)

A neighborly dispute gone horribly awry between a popular Grundy Center restaurant and nearby property owners has resulted in a lawsuit that could force Landmark Bistro Owner Jill Krausman to make “costly changes to her business.”


Recently, a state fire inspector arrived at Krausman’s property upon a complaint, and though the office can’t confirm the identity of the individual or individuals that filed it without their permission, the complainants are believed to be David and Linda Bertram—who own the building directly to the east of the restaurant (including the Alley Cut hair salon and the now-defunct Olive Branch gift store) and reside in an upstairs apartment. The Bertrams argued that an exhaust fan on the north side of her building is a nuisance emitting an unpleasant odor and is also not in compliance with the International Building Code, which specifies that the fan must be placed 10 feet off the ground and at least 10 feet away from neighboring properties.


“This is the first time in my career that (a complaint) has had to do with a property line dispute. That part is the odd part,” Dan Wood, who has been with the state fire marshal’s office for the last 12 years, said. “This has more urgency, and—let’s call it—politics involved.” 


Krausman’s fan is roughly eight and a half feet off the ground, though it partially extrudes onto the Bertram property. She is planning to move it per the fire marshal’s order but hadn’t yet due to current litigation with the Bertrams over property lines and the conflicting results of surveys each family had conducted.


“Mine shows that my property line goes three feet off the back wall, and they believe that their property line goes right up to the wall,” Krausman said. “Their survey and my survey are within inches. We’re literally battling over inches.”


In order to settle the dispute, the owners of the Landmark entered litigation against the Bertrams in early in December of 2016 arguing that they have made claims to a portion of Krausman’s property—specifically noting a deck and stairs constructed in 2006, which now sit partially on her property line.  


Shortly after, the Bertrams filed a lengthy countersuit.


In the court documents, they claim that the previous property owner allowed them to build the deck and utilize part of the land in question, requesting that the court establish the area as part of their boundary line and that the Krausmans be forever barred and estopped from having or claiming any right, title or interest to the area.


They also claim that The Landmark‘s exhaust fan partially extrudes onto their property—requesting it be moved so as not to be a nuisance and that the Krausmans compensate them for damages for the nuisance and other such relief as may be equitable.


The 10-page countersuit includes additional charges that the Krausmans have unlawfully entered and disturbed use of their property while obtaining access to dumpsters, greasers, containers, and the grease vent that extrudes partially onto the Bertram’s property (all of which have since been removed), and that Krausman bolted a fence onto their building.


The Bertrams have requested the court to enter a permanent injunction on the Krausmans to remove their structures from the neighboring property and to compensate them for damages incurred.


At press time, Mr. and Mrs. Bertram and Mr. Wood had not responded to multiple requests for comment. Erika Allen will serve as the legal counsel for the Krausman family, and the Bertrams have hired William S. Vernon from Simmons, Perrine, Moyer and Bergman, PLC, of Cedar Rapids to represent them in court. 


This story is developing, and more information will be released as it becomes available. A full article can be found in the next edition of The Grundy Register, and those who wish to subscribe can call (319) 824-6958 or click here.