property line

One of the most popular holiday light displays in the area is in its final days, to be discontinued due to trespassers and harassment, according to the family. 

“We are feeling deflated and have lost faith in humanity,” the family stated Nov. 26 on the Lenbom Lights page on Facebook, citing concerns for their family’s safety and indifference from law enforcement to a property line dispute with a neighbor.

In a rare move, the post prompted Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald to issue a lengthy response, also on Facebook.

“I feel we have been wrongfully attacked. It appears that they are using something they do for the community to create joy to many people, as a platform to make something happen when this took place over 7–8 months ago. I understand that their opinion is that they feel wronged, but I stand by my (department) and how we handled it,” Fitzgerald stated. 

The other party, Scott and Stacey Frolik, also feel unfairly attacked and have said they, too, have been repeatedly harassed over the property line dispute. 

But Stacey’s status as head of the County’s Department of Health & Human Services raised suspicion of favoritism. 

“Something is definitely going on. Definitely. They apply the law differently to different people,” said Mike Lenbom, whose property between Ojaski (Mud) Lake and CTH M abuts that of Scott and Stacey Frolik. 

The Froliks own about 700 acres in the towns of Sumner and Chetek. 

They purchased the property next to the Lenboms’ in October 2020 and began clearing a trail for access to Ojaski Lake. In the process, some trees on the Lenboms’ side of the line were cut down, according to the Lenboms.

Only afterwards was the line surveyed. Now there is a fence, with a dock on the Frolik property right up against the fence line. 

The Froliks said they had to position the dock on the line to access open water because their lake frontage north of the fence line is too swampy.

According to the Lenboms, trespassing occurred multiple times. They said responding officers did not give citations, but rather were told they were “acting childish” and “you have to pick your battles.”

It is apparent that trees on their property were cut. Estimates as to how far onto the property trees were cut, ranges from 37 feet—according to a sheriff’s deputy report—to less than five feet, according to a letter from Barron County District Attorney Brian Wright.

But that was not enough for a citation to be issued. 

“There is no indication in the information I reviewed that Mr. Frolik knew he was on your property,” stated Wright in the letter. 

He continued, “It appears he should have been more careful in determining where the property line was before he cleared the trees and brush where the fence is now located. However, in the exercise of my discretion, I am not going to charge Mr. Frolik with a forfeiture for trespassing under these circumstances.”

Wright recommended the matter be resolved in civil court, where the Lenboms might be awarded damages. (See sidebar story on how law enforcement and prosecutors deal with trespassing cases).

Lenbom said he didn’t feel there is much of a civil case without a trespassing citation. 

“We’re not tree-huggers per se; it’s not about that. It’s the principle of the thing,” said Lenbom, who said this is the first time they’ve had issues with neighbors. 

“They’ve drawn a line in the sand, and there’s nothing we can do,” he concluded.

The Lenboms voiced their discontent with how the situation was dealt with in subsequent meetings with Fitzgerald, Wright, and county administrator Jeff French. They also gave remarks in front of the Barron County Board in June. 

The Froliks have been involved in civil suits before over property lines. They lost a case and subsequent appeal, in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Another case is open. 

But Scott doesn’t agree with the notion that the Froliks don’t get along with their neighbors.

“We adjoin 120 different landowners, (and there have been) only three issues in over 20 years,” he said.

They are hoping the latest dispute goes no further.

“We hoped that this would just go away,” said Scott. “We wanted to let karma happen and let the public make their own decisions.”

“We just want to get along,” said Stacey. “We don’t care what the relationship looks like. If they don’t like us, fine. Just as long as we can get along.” 

Mike Lenbom said he also wants peace. He said he hopes others might learn from the situation and know what to do when trespassing issues arise. 

On Dec. 6 a post on the Lenbom Lights page stated, “This is not an attack on one entity; it is the whole system. We don’t expect an elected official to understand our feelings, but dismissing our experiences and concerns shows a lack of empathy. We would like to thank everyone for your care and concerns for our family.”

But since then posts have focused on the light show and gathering donations for a local pantry. The lights can be seen along CTH M, from 5–11 p.m. until Jan. 1. 

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