Nicole Curtis keeps popping up in unexpected places on her self-proclaimed “Dora The Explorer” summer adventures, from Paris to New York and now to the tiny lakeside village where she filmed “Rehab Addict Lake House Rescue,” a series that fans have been asking about since HGTV pulled it from its lineup hours before its scheduled July 13 premiere.
When the home restoration expert learned a public hearing had been scheduled to discuss a proposed housing development on the shores of Lake Orion, the small town where she grew up and owns multiple homes, she said she cut a trip to New York City short in order to jet off to Detroit — about 45 minutes north — and confront the Commission. No stranger to controversy, Curtis says this will be her “loudest fight yet.”
Curtis Has Been All Over The Map This Summer
Curtis had many fans worried on July 13, when she posted a mirror selfie from an airport bathroom to her Instagram feed and declared “I’m done,” announcing that her new show, chronicling her restoration of a century-old vacation home in Lake Orion, would not air as planned. In her Instagram Stories, she posted photos of herself in a hospital, writing, “I’m a ‘make the best of it’ Person, but reached my limits when…the stress of ‘doing it all’ broke my body.”
Three days later, the HGTV star revealed she was in Paris, saying that she felt like waking up looking at the Eiffel Tower so she booked a flight. She did not address the HGTV show or her health until July 21, when she shared in new Instagram Stories that when she left the country, she had not finished the “Rehab Addict Lake House Rescue” show in time for its scheduled premiere on HGTV.
She wrote, “Due to health issues, physical (not mental), I could not be on a job site for my usual 16-22 hours I build on AND off camera … We were almost done with the Lake House when this occurred. The shows are on my laptop in final edit When I am up to par- you will see my house as the star @hgtv.”
On July 23, Curtis said she was ready to leave Paris, feeling better and like she’d found “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Several days later, Curtis popped up in New York City, posting new photos to her Instagram Stories about another impromptu trip. But that trip was cut short when she got wind of the public hearing to be held in the Village of Lake Orion.
“I saw a notice for a hearing in #lakeorion,” she wrote with a mirror selfie posted to her Instagram Stories. “Decided to end my ‘Dora the explorer trip early.”
Curtis Ruffles Feathers While Addressing Planning Commission
Curtis was not the only one concerned about development plans for her hometown, which has a population of less than 3,000. The council chamber was packed with residents on Aug. 1, most of whom had shown up to protest the proposed four-story apartments. In video of the three hour session, Planning Commission Chairman Jim Zsenyuk thanked the crowd for coming to their regular meeting but said notifications about it being a formal public hearing had been posted by mistake.
Residents were still allowed to share their concerns about the economic and ecological impact of adding apartment buildings along the marina, but the developers did not present their designs. Curtis took to the podium twice, first reading a statement from Lake Orion resident Steve Cimini, who is her ex-husband. The couple went through a bitter custody fight over their son Ethan, who’s now 24, but now reportedly have an amicable relationship.
Curtis then spent several minutes echoing the concerns of prior speakers, calling the proposed buildings “absolutely ridiculous.” Many attendees before her had expressed worry that adding more residences along the marina would result in greater boat traffic on the already-crowded lake. Curtis told the Commission that rejecting the proposal would protect “the village from transient residents.”
“This is something where you need sustainability in this village,” the 46-year-old told the Commission. “You know, I’m getting up there in years, my family members that built this city got up in years and have passed away. We need life owners. We need lifers in this town. You don’t get that from high-end rental units.”
At times, the longtime TV personality struggled to make clear points and jumped erratically from topic to topic. For instance, she told those on the council, “Many of you on here have been there forever. I’ve only been here for 28 years, if you really want to ask me the truth, but more like 46 now.”
Curtis also accused the Commission of breaking the law by nixing the previously-announced public hearing. She said, “I would also like to speak on the behalf that it is completely illegal to announce something on an agenda and have it in your records and then it mysteriously disappears when you have a large gathering here of people opposing it. I would call that a good game of card shuffle right there.”
When Curtis went to the podium a second time, she was asked more than once to show more respect for the council members. She read the Commission’s public hearing notice directly from The Lake Orion Review, pointing out again that it was wrong to not hold the public hearing as advertised, and told the council members that they should do a better job providing village residents with access to proposed development plans.
“It’s the burden of you guys as elected officials to make sure the city is doing its job to get this out properly,” she told them, adding that the formal hearing should be held at a larger facility “with air, that would be great.”
Elected council member Michael Lamb spoke up at that point, asking Curtis to have more respect for the council’s efforts. Lamb said he’d spent a thousand hours of his own time working for the council without any kind of compensation, adding that the village staff was very small and going through a transition of roles due to the village manager being sick.
“These gentlemen…are all volunteers that spend many hours of their free time doing this for free,” he told Curtis. “So please be respectful to these gentlemen when you say what our responsibilities are.”
Curtis replied, “I mean no disrespect” but reiterated her point and said she volunteers for many things, but does not let a lack of compensation keep her from doing her job.
Curtis Confronts Developers, Says This Fight is “Personal”
After the commission meeting, Curtis posted videos to her Instagram Stories of her confronting a member of the development firm that hopes to build the new apartments. She asked the man, carrying display boards with artistic renderings of the proposed site, “Were you prepared for a hearing tonight?”
“Yes we were,” he replied. “If you show up at a meeting, always be prepared.” Over the video, Curtis wrote, “The village — last minute — said there wasn’t a public meeting. WTF is the developer here with all their props?”
In her Instagram feed on Aug. 3, Curtis posted a photo of herself at the podium. She wrote, “This is gonna be my loudest fight yet, as it should be. I’ve fought for preservation everywhere and it seems fitting to bring that experience home. Ironically, I’ve just finished edits on the shows highlighting my love for this historic village.”
Then, on Aug. 4, the self-described preservationist posted some written thoughts on her Instagram Stories. “On the agenda today — wake up. I’m pulling together all the info for this #lakeorion fight. So, hold tight — cause I’m gonna need your help.”
She also uploaded a photo of her lake house — the one said to be featured on her new show — and wrote, “I’ve been restoring a 1907 cottage here since 2014. I own four other homes here in #lakeorion — this fight is personal.” In smaller letters, she typed “@hgtv This September,” which may mean the “Lake House Rescue” series has been rescheduled to premiere this fall.
Curtis then shared multiple videos to showcase why “this fight is my most personal yet,” including footage of a busy intersection where Curtis says she and her ex-husband first met, and images of historic houses that would get “razed” if the developers get their way. A formal public hearing on the matter is now scheduled for Sept. 6.