Surrey takes first step to open roads to ORVs

After some discussion Tuesday evening, the Grant Township Board voted unanimously to approve sending a letter to the Clare County Commission asking them to open all roads in the township to ORV use.

The matter has been under discussion at the township meetings for about two months, with township residents asking for the change since the county ordinance, approved by the township earlier, has caused problems for many.

At the June township meeting, Chuck Gaskill complained that the road could not be used. “I have to use Surrey Road to go to the hunting area I’ve been using for 40 years,” he said. “I don’t know why that portion [from the Grant Township line to Old State] was closed. I’ve gotten two tickets on that 2.5 mile stretch. I’ve been stopped more than once. I have to travel on Surrey to get to roads that are open for ORV use.”

At that same meeting, Resident Alan Reiss said people who came up for the Memorial Day weekend were being stopped too. “They couldn’t believe they couldn’t use the road,” he said.

Gaskill said, legally I can’t plow snow, or use my ORV attached to a grass catcher because I have to go onto the road right-of-way. If I do I’m breaking the law.”

Hamilton said in June that he would like to table the matter and talk to the Sheriff and other officers about the matter. “We need to get a little education on this,” he said.

Deputy Kevin Roland told the board at the July meeting that Sheriff Wilson was in favor of opening the roads since Amish buggies, mopeds, and other types of slow vehicles were already legal and only ORVs were prohibited.

The Surrey Township board voted at the July meeting to set a Public Hearing to hear township resident’s views on opening Surrey and Maple Grove roads to ORV use, however Supervisor Russ Hamilton said Tuesday evening that there would not be a Public Hearing because the township had drafted a letter to the County Board asking them to change their ordinance. “If they change their ordinance we won’t have to do anything,” he said.

Several people who wanted to attend the Public Hearing left the meeting at that time.

Later in the meeting Tuesday evening, the board voted unanimously to approve having Zoning Administrator Rod Williams deliver the approved letter to the County Board on Wednesday.

The letter asked the county board “to amend their ordinance to allow ORV traffic on all county roads within Surrey Township.”

The only county roads closed to ORVs are in Surrey and Grant Townships include Surrey Road from M-115 U.S. 10) east to Cornwall Road, and Maple Grove Road from Bringold east to M115.

Williams took a copy of the letter to the Grant Township meeting later Tuesday evening, and that board also voted to ask the county to open all roads except State and U.S. roads to ORV use.

Williams cautioned the Surrey Board saying, “It could take 25 days to go through all of the procedures required to change the county ordinance.”

In another matter the board approved allowing Fire Chief Dave Williams to make a purchase offer on the lot just south of the Township Hall and Fire Department. The board approved making an offer of $25,000 for the property.

Williams said the property could be used as a parking lot. “Sometimes there are no places for firemen to park when they are responding to a call, he said.”

Alan Reiss of Reiss Real Estate said the property has been on the market for “about four years.” He said he would contact the owner with the offer. The property was listed for $59,000 but the purchase price was lowered to $29,000 recently.

In other business:

*The board approved a special assessment and resolution to fund treatment of Bear Lake for aquatic weeds. The matter raised no objections to the plans, which would assess lake property owners $250 a year annually through 2015 to pay the $5,000 cost of the process.

*County Commissioner Lynn Grim reported on county business. She said, “A Dental Clinic in Clare County is important for county kids and for people who don’t have access to dental care. She said there would be a meeting of community partners to expand co dental care at Mid Michigan Community College on September 17 at noon to work on the project. She also reported the Conservation District would be collecting used tires at the Farwell Fairgrounds on August 25th.

*In his report, Fire Chief Williams asked for are received approval for the purchase of tires and alignment for Truck Number 271 at a cost of $2,550.14. He reported 51 calls for the month.

*Mahlon Parsons reported that the Planning Commission would be meeting Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. to work on ordinance updates.

*The board approved $60 per weekend as the attendant’s pay for Kerwin Paesens at Waste Management’s recycle container in the Village. Recyclable materials will be accepted tentatively on the last weekend of each month starting in August.

*Also approved was the renewal of Assessor Frank Gentz’s contract. Providing $11 per parcel in 2012 and $12 per parcel in 2013.

*approval of bills totaling $39,978.48.