bluff road, trees, road work, tree removal, grand traverse county road commission
Bluff Road Trees | Jane Boursaw Photo
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The Grand Traverse County Road Commission has scheduled a special meeting tonight, April 5, at 5:30 at the Road Commission offices, 1881 LaFranier Road in Traverse City.

The meeting is in regard to the roadwork and tree removal currently in progress on Bluff Road, from the intersection of Center Road and the intersection of Blue Water Road. As we reported previously, a citizens group organized by Bluff Road resident Jim Floraday was formed to gather signatures for a petition to designate Bluff Road as a “Natural Beauty Road,” as well as rein in the tree removal done in conjunction with the roadwork.

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The group has hired an attorney and is in the process of filing an injunction against the Road Commission to preserve some of the trees, marked to be saved with a yellow ribbon by Peninsula Township representatives. The township is a party on that injunction.

“Our concern is that by removing some of those trees, we’re going to lose the road eventually because of the steep slope,” notes Township Supervisor Rob Manigold.

He adds that this roadwork and tree removal sets a precedent for other tree-lined roads on the Old Mission Peninsula with a canopy similar to Bluff Road.

In an op-ed published by Old Mission Gazette on April 1, 2017, Peninsula Township resident Joe Gorka writes:

“The natural elevations and tree cover of ridgelines should be disturbed only if there is a minimal slope and lengthy crest of a ridge. Otherwise, the existing tree line at this ridge should remain uninterrupted.

This practice adds up to soil stabilization which protect soil and the bay from the erosive forces or raindrop impact and flowing water containing unknown amounts of fertilizers and other nutrients.

Given that the ridgeline along Bluff Road contains steep slopes (slopes about 15 percent), and extremely steep slopes (slopes above 25 percent), combined with dominant sandy soils, rock formations, and a Lake Michigan shoreline, this is an extremely fragile system. We hope the Road Commission recognizes that this should be carefully managed and protected from unnecessary disturbances and logging activities.”

There will be time for public comment at the Road Commission meeting tonight, before they enter into a closed session to discuss their course of action on Bluff Road.

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

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  1. This is a classic case of overkill by the Road Commission – which unfortunately occurs too frequently in areas of historic beauty. And their cavalier attitude of “we know best” is an example of why citizens must be vigilant. Elected officials generally are responsive, bureaucrats less so. Good luck with the injunction – at that point the Road Commission will start to listen.

  2. Going into executive session? Is that legal in MI? In CO it’s only legal if you’re addressing personnel issues and then they can’t make any decisions in exec session, any vote has to occur in public.


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