By Pat Maurer
It seems the years-long controversy between Hayes Township, Mostetler Road residents and WHMDR (Moto Mania) might be settled soon.
The 200 acre ORV (off-road vehicle) park is closed now and Douglas Longenecker no longer owns the Mostetler Road property where the park was developed.
In 2009, a special use permit granted to developer Longenecker, of Freeland, was found to be illegal. Months passed as property owners continued to protest to what they called “noise, soil erosion, pollution and dust raised” by the facility’s operation, petitioning Hayes Township to stop the development. A Circuit Court injunction filed by neighboring property owners halted the park development.
Business owners in the area sided with the ORV operation, saying it would bring much needed business into the Harrison community.
The Hayes Township Planning Commission was ordered to reconsider the application and in May of 2010 the Hayes Planning Commission granted special use zoning with conditions, correcting the “incorrect procedures” in the fall 2009 approval.
In June, 2010 the 2-1 vote of the Planning Commission was overturned.
In April, 2011, The Hayes Township Planning Commission once again approved a special use permit for Moto Mania at a special meeting. The use of the property on Mostetler Road, first intended as an Off Road Vehicle park, was changed to a campground and resort.
Once again neighbors protested and the Hayes Township Hall was packed, both with supporters and opponents to the development.
The controversy led to a lawsuit against the owners of the park in April, 2010. Another was filed August 20, 2012 by Hayes Township against WHMDR and then a counter suit by WHMDR was filed against the township.
The Hayes Township lawsuit against WHMDR may be settled, according to a stipulation and order to dismiss the Hayes Township complaint that reportedly was filed by Hayes attorney Christopher S. Patterson July 23rd.
The order says Hayes Township (plaintiff) and WHMDR Inc. d/b/a Michigan Moto Mania (defendant) have agreed that the court may dismiss the Hayes complaint “without prejudice and without costs, based upon mootness, since neither the defendant (WHMDR) nor its owner, Douglas Longenecker, have any current ownership or possessory interest in or right to the property that is the subject of the complaint and have stopped using the property as alleged in the complaint.”
If ownership of the property is regained, Hayes may reinstate its complaint, the order said.
It also said the case shall proceed with the defendant’s (WHMDR) complaint against Hayes Township.
The document was signed for Hayes Township by Patterson, who also signed, with consent for the counter defendant and defendant/counter plaintiff.
Officials at Clare County Circuit Court said last week that court dates of September 17, a hearing October 22 and a trial date of December 17 have not yet been changed and that they had not yet received the stipulation and order.