Noise, trucks have Grant Twp. residents objecting

August 10, 2017

By Pat Maurer

Once again the Grant Township meeting was filled with people, less than 30 this time, who wanted to air their concerns during public comment time. But this time the meeting was nowhere near as heated as during last month’s regular meeting.

At the July 11 meeting residents came in force, some to support the proposed noise ordinance, but most against the draft developed with board approval by Supervisor Dan Dysinger and more comments adamantly against the truck ordinances passed by the board last winter.

Close to 30 people attended the Grant Township meeting Monday to air concerns over the truck restriction ordinances and other matters.

Close to 30 people attended the Grant Township meeting Monday to air concerns over the truck restriction ordinances and other matters.

At that meeting during the public comment time there were 24 comments made about the proposed noise ordinance, with less than five in support and 20 more all objecting to the road ordinances, the majority from business owners that depend on trucking.

Eight more comments were expressed that night against ordinances or zoning for either noise or the already in force trucking ordinances, with just a couple speakers in favor.

The overwhelming objections to a new noise ordinance prompted the board to drop the issue completely.

Before the single public comment item on the agenda at this month’s meeting, the board discussed and unanimously passed a new policy on procedures for public comment which included regulations on public conduct from audience members. The policy, based on samples from the Michigan Township Association and other townships, gives public comment speakers three minutes each with more allowed. It prohibits comments directed to others in the audience and allowing speakers to give part of their comment time to others. Personal attacks on township officials or employees gives the chair the discretion to terminate the public comment time for that person.

It limits each speaker to two separate comments on the same matter at the same meeting, a change from one comment per person, that was listed in the draft of the policy. That rule may be waived by the chair with township board approval.

Another part gives the board or the chair the option to allow public participation on agenda items other than during public comment at their discretion.

The rules for public comment allows photos and videos and tapes to be made and prohibits any person from disrupting a meeting or a “breach of the peace.” Violators of the rule can be expelled from the meeting.

Finally it says, “No person shall utilize any profane or obscene speech or gesture.”

Immediately following the policy approval, Tuesday night’s meeting brought out more of the same objections to the truck ordinances and a few other concerns, although the meeting was much calmer than the month before.

Seventeen comments were made to the board during the single public comment period on the agenda.

One comment by Chris Russo was about an attempted theft at his pole barn by two apparent Amish men in an unmarked buggy that didn’t even have the slow moving vehicle signs. “What part of their religion is this?” he asked. “I think Michigan should force license plates or some form of identification on buggies. Something has gotta be done.”

Dennis Allen agreed, saying he was tired of running over horse manure (in the road). “They need to use diapers or blankets to catch it,” he said.

Later, Andy Coblentz, who is Amish spoke saying, “I see the Amish got slammed a little bit. We are not perfect but we are all part of the community. If there is a problem, please let us know and we will address it.”

Another Amish resident Ivan Byler said he agreed with Andy. He added that damage to the roads mentioned before is not from buggies. “I say a (County) road grader cause damage to the center of the road. It peeled the new tar and chip seal right off,” he said. He said the chip seal process is a waste of money. “It would be a wiser idea to pave,” he said.

Connie Zinser said, “I don’t understand when people talk bad about the Amish. They are good people and manure has always gotten on the road in a farming community.

Addressing the lack of lights, reflectors or markers on neighboring Amish in Gladwin County, Coblentz said, “I speak out strongly for lights on buggies. It is hard for drivers to see a black buggy in the dark. We don’t want to see anyone get hurt.” He said it is a safety, rather than a religious issue.

County Commissioner Jack Kleinhardt said, “I’ve seen far too many buggy accidents where all that’s left are small pieces. I wish there was something more we could do to encourage more lights on buggies, so a driver could see them.” He asked the two Amish men at the meeting to “help us convince them that this is a serious safety issue.”

The roads and their condition came up again with several residents saying that with the truck restrictions forcing drivers to find alternate routes, the other roads that are not restricted are now seeing more damage, especially to the gravel roads.

Liz Bouchey said, “More trucks using them is making the roads worse.”

Jack Bouchey said, “Kapplinger needs to be graded and filled now that we have to use it because of the truck restrictions.”

Dysinger said gravel could be added and the road graded, but when an improvement plan was developed by the board about 15 years ago, residents did not want trees cut along the road to facilitate ditching during improvements, so the plan was dropped. “The residents were against cutting any trees,” he said.

John Hanner commented on how unfair the 12,000 pound weight limit is for businesses. “The federal and state regulations only allow so much weight per axle. We are under a legal status. What you guys are doing to us is killing us. There’s nothing right about what you are doing here. We are just trying to make a living. It’s not a good plan.”

Flavious Hicks commented, “You should have signs that say no through trucks except for local delivery.” He mentioned other vehicles and pickups hauling heavy loads that are overweight but exempt from the ordinance.

Chuck Tipton said, “Michigan is a heavy haul state. It has been proven that (per axle limits) cause less damage (to the roads).”

In another matter, reports were presented by Clare County Commissioner Leonard Strouse who said the County is beginning to work on the budget for the coming year. He spoke of his reluctance to have so much security in the County Building. “It’s a continual push for more,” he said. “People (coming to the building) don’t want to be searched.” He asked audience members, “Do you want to see the County Building on a complete lockdown?” He said he would rather see them (officers) out on the road protecting the public.

Strouse also mentioned dangerous parking at the Colonville Country Store on Colonville Road. “Law enforcement doesn’t see a problem,” he said, but I’ve seen a lot of close calls there.”

Commissioner Jack Kleinhardt agreed with the budget problems at the County and over staffing of officers in the building. “Just about everything we get goes into law enforcement,” he said.

County Clerk Lori Martin also gave a report on the activities in her office. She said her campaign plan to have credit and debit card payments available should be “in the works” in about three weeks.

Other business at the Grant meeting included:

*A report from Dysinger on the four-year road plan for the township. He estimated spending $1.4 million on roads over the four years from 2018 to 2021. “The largest year will be 2020 when we spend from $460-$470, 000,” he said. “The other years will average from 370-$380,000 per year.

*Approval of bills due totaling $23,628.10.

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