By Pat Maurer
Discussion of a potential truck route ordinance with audience members and representatives of the Clare County Road Commission headlined the Grant Township Board meeting Tuesday evening.
The township had determined to begin investigating establishing an ordinance to limit truck traffic and protect some of the soon-to-be repaired roads at the December meeting.
Since that time, Supervisor Dan Dysinger said he had contacted Township Attorney William Fahey about the best way to proceed. His first correspondence concerned enforcement, possible exceptions to the ordinance restrictions, possible problems with access to collector (federally funded) roads (that cannot be restricted) and if creating the ordinance would give the township control over use of township roads for “detour routes.”
Fahey’s December 15 written response, outlined by Dysinger at Tuesday’s meeting, said that enforcement could be by a township appointed enforcement officer or, with a contract, the Sheriff’s Department. That signs would have to be approved by the Road Commission and that the Road Commission also has the ability to establish an ordinance, another option. “If the Road Commission adopted the ordinance, then they would be responsible for its enforcement,” Fahey wrote.
He said exceptions for local trucking activities are a “common feature of truck route ordinances,” and that federally funded roads require “reasonable access,” which could be a problem. He said, “Within reasonable limits, you can choose which roads can be used for through purposes by heavy truck and prohibit the use of other roads.”
Dysinger’s second contact with William Fahey asked if an ordinance created by the Road Commission would be enforced by the Clare County Prosecutor; if all townships would be subject (included); and if the Road Commission would have to create the same things – an enforcement Officer or Civil Infraction Ordinance.
December 31, Fahey responded with answers including: that violation of an ordinance created by the Road Commission would be a civil infraction and the prosecutor would be responsible for enforcing them; that only the roads or portions of roads that the Road Commission selects would be subject to the ordinance and township approval would not be required; and that they would not need a “civil infraction ordinance” and any police officer would be allowed to issue an infraction for a violation of the ordinance.
Road Commissioner Dick Haynak and Manager Ron Bushong were both at the meeting to give annual reports to the board.
Concerning the ordinance, Bushong said, “You are seeking to only eliminate through truck traffic on some roads. With the trucking activity in this county, this won’t be a popular item. You want some reassurance that your investment (in road repairs) is protected.”
At the December meeting the township board approved township road repairs totaling $330,000 next year using a list outlined for the first year of a ten-year plan for road improvements and repairs.
At Tuesday’s meeting Haynak said the Road Commission had agreed to pay 50 percent of the cost to resurface one mile of paved road in the township to contribute to the project.
Dysinger said he planned to attend the County Road Commission meeting to request that they consider developing a truck route ordinance. “I am encouraging the Road Commission to pick up creating this ordinance – to consider it.”
County Commissioner Jack Kleinhardt said he had researched establishing truck routes some time ago. “It is my opinion that you will have trouble establishing truck routes.” Haynak said the Road Commission has attorneys who can look into the matter.
In another matter, the Board of Review schedule was noted with the Organizational meeting on March 5 at 4 p.m.; Appeals Meetings on March 11 from 9 a.m. to noon and 6 to 9 p.m. and March 12 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
The schedule for Budget Hearings was also set as follows: Workshops on February 25 at 7 p.m. and March 11 at 1 p.m.; a Public Hearing on March 12 at 7 p.m. and the annual Township meeting on April 9 at 7 p.m.
Other business at the township meeting included:
*A report by Fire Chief James Chapman which included the possibility of obtaining a “water point apparatus” which would be used to draft water for fighting fires.
*Reports by County Commissioners Leonard Strouse and Jack Kleinhardt on county activities.
*Adoption of the revised Poverty Guidelines for 2013 as outlined in the State Tax Commission Bulletin.
*Payment of December bills totaling $50,679.77.