M37 End Sign near Mission Point Lighthouse on the Old Mission Peninsula; Road Millage Renewal | Jane Boursaw Photo
M37 End Sign near Mission Point Lighthouse on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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The Peninsula Township Board is officially opposing the upcoming road millage renewal on the Nov. 3 ballot.

At their meeting this month, the board passed a resolution opposing the millage, citing ongoing issues with the Grand Traverse County Road Commission (GTCRC), as well as the Township’s declining ability to provide input into GTCRC procedures, planning, budgeting and millage for local roads.

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The resolution also notes that up until 1969, county road commissioners were appointed by the county board of supervisors with representatives from each township. In 1969, township representatives were replaced by commissioners representing districts having roughly equal populations.

“As a result, past healthy and open partnerships between townships and road commissions were made more difficult because township representatives no longer appointed county road commissioners,” notes the resolution.

The resolution also states that the GTCRC has refused to acknowledge Peninsula Township’s unique transportation needs, some of which are outlined in these six issues:

1. Cutting trees along Peninsula Drive and Bluff Road in order to prevent other townships from believing GTCRC treats Peninsula Township differently from them. Note: Peninsula Township has some 42 miles of Great Lakes shoreline experiencing record high water levels, and tree roots help stabilize steep banks, reduce the effects of erosion, and help motorists identify areas where steep banks are within the shoulders of shoreline roads. Read more about the Bluff Road tree-cutting here.

2. Telling the Peninsula Township zoning administrator that GTCRC does not have responsibility for fixing the problems along Bluff Road; GTCRC staff discussed placing guard rails in places where the top of the bank was within the shoulder of the road but took no subsequent action.

3. Refusing to designate Bluff Road as a Natural Beauty Road pursuant to P.A. 451 of 1994 in spite of a petition of more than 25 property owners and a resolution of the Peninsula Township Board of Trustees on March 17, 2017, supporting the petition. Read more about the Township’s Natural Beauty Road resolution and GTCRC’s denial of same here.

4. Ignoring the fact that on Nov. 19, 2019, the Peninsula Township Board of Trustees adopted a resolution opposing the proposed transfer of jurisdiction over M37 to GTCRC from MDOT, with copies sent to MDOT’s Traverse City Service Center and GTCRC. Read more about the Township’s resolution opposing the M37 transfer here.

5. Accepting the offer on Oct. 20, 2019 by MDOT to accept jurisdiction over M37, an action that would require MDOT to delete M37 from the Pure Michigan Scenic Heritage Byway system without notifying or consulting Peninsula Township. Note: Peninsula Township was not copied on the communications between MDOT and GTCRC, including the decision to offer the transfer or the notice of GTCRC’s August 20, 2019, meeting. Read more about the M37 transfer and removal of the Scenic Heritage Byway here.

6. Threatening to abandon a portion of Bluff Road or engage in a de-facto abandonment by closing a portion of Bluff Road and creating two dead-end roads. Read our interview with GTCRC manager Brad Kluczynski here, where he states that Bluff Road may not open again.

The resolution also includes multiple actions taken by Peninsula Township regarding roads within the township, including purchasing conservation easements to protect farmland and open space from development and preserve prime scenic views (approved by township voters twice), passing resolutions as noted above, changing the Master Plan to include protection of farmland, open space and scenic views, and more.

Read the Township’s full resolution opposing the road millage here.

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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. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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