2017-10-12 / Front Page

Church Project Hits Snag on Easement

By Erich T. Doerr

The Moran Township Board has run into a setback in its effort to improve electrical service to the Gros Cap Church because it can’t get an easement from adjacent property owners for a new power pole or an underground connecting line.

At an October 4 meeting, Township Supervisor Jim Durm and Zoning Administrator Craig Therrian reported that owners of adjacent parcels are unwilling to grant easements necessary for the proposed power upgrades. Cloverland Electric Cooperative says power service to the church, which is undergoing renovation and repairs, can’t be improved without a power pole on or connecting line through a neighboring property.

Township residents and board members want to revitalize the picturesque former Catholic church for use as a meeting place and for a Christmas season caroling event that recently has been revived. Outdated electrical service makes that more difficult, however, and a Cloverland representative told the board the company wouldn’t repair that outdated service if it was knocked out by a storm or fallen tree limb.

Mr. Therrian described owners of the parcels bordering church on all sides as “nice people,” but said they’re unwilling to grant an easement owing to concerns the church could one day fall into private use, despite the township’s efforts. They also want the option of moving their lakeshore homes to parcels adjacent to the church if rising water levels make that necessary, he said.

The church is on the opposite side of Gros Cap Road from the shoreline of the Straits of Mackinac. Many area homes are along the shore, with sweeping views of the water and the Mackinac Bridge. In the past, families living on Gros Cap Road were organizers of and participants in a Christmas-season night of carol singing at the church, which they decorated with greenery and ornaments.

Township Clerk Kris Vallier told the board that, besides the revived holiday caroling program, the church will be used for a wedding this month, its first in four years. Another wedding is scheduled next summer.

While they made no decision about how to address the electrical issue in the October 4 meeting, board members opened a discussion of alternatives to easements from neighbors for an upgraded electrical connection. The current power line, an older type, is still operational and Cloverland says it can remain in use, but can’t be repaired or replaced if anything happens to it. Mr. Durm suggested installing a propane-powered standby generator with a solarpowered control panel.

The board also briefly discussed ways to improve water and sewer service at the church. The most likely option is a new well and a septic holding tank.

In other action, board members continued discussion of concerns about motorists ignoring a drop in the speed limit, from 65 miles an hour to 45 miles an hour, along US- 2 near the St. Ignace Golf and Country Club. That’s dangerous, they say, because there are intersections and several entrances to businesses along that stretch. The board has written to the Michigan Department of Transportation about the issue and, at the meeting, declined to approve a proposal from the Mackinac County Board of Commissioners calling for a 55-mile-an-hour speed limit in the area.

The county commissioners want to ask the state transportation department to reinstate that speed limit. Township Treasurer Sue Dionne said, however, she prefers a speed limit along US-2 that steps down from 65- to 55- and then 45-milesan hour as the highway approaches St. Ignace from the west.

St. Ignace Golf and Country Club course manager Ben Brown and secretary Dave Koivuniemi were at the meeting to continue discussions about their proposal that the township help with the facility’s expenses in exchange for golfing privileges for residents of the municipality. While owned by the City of St. Ignace, the golf course is within the township, whose attorney, Tom Evashevski, has advised it couldn’t spend money on the course unless that resulted in benefits for township taxpayers.

A golf course committee is willing to meet with township officials to discuss arrangements, such as deal similar to the one between St. Ignace and Moran Township in which township residents enjoy free use of the city’s Little Bear East fitness center in exchange for township financial support for the facility. The board decided to investigate its options for helping support the golf course and whether that also would require an agreement with the city.

Ms. Dionne, who has met with the golf course committee, said the township might provide backing if its residents received a discount when they used the course. Among other things, the golf course needs money for new mowing equipment.

The board approved new payment rates for cemetery sexton Ben Goudreau when he carries out cremation burials for the township. He now will be paid $50 by the township for weekday burials, $75 for Saturday burials, and $100 for Sunday burials. Mr. Goudreau digs graves, does all the preparatory work, and is required to be present for all burials related to cremations. The township receives a $130 fee for weekday cremation burials, but in the past, none of the fee has gone to Mr. Goudreau.

Meanwhile, concerns about two burials for which the township was paid in advance has been resolved: families of the deceased, informed of the mistake, paid immediately.

Mackinac Sales owner Paul Krause said he will provide the board with an estimate of how much it will cost to repair damage to one of his dealership’s driveways that he says resulted from the 2003 installation of a township water line. Board members agreed the township should help pay for repairs to correct the damage because it was caused partly by the water line installation.

Mr. Krause says that since the 2003 township project was completed, he sometimes has had to put traffic cones across the middle dealership driveway because it periodically sinks badly before rising again to its normal level. He wants to have it repaired permanently and paved. Mr. Durm, who once operated a motel next to the dealership, said frost causes the problem. He said he dug up and repaired the motel entrance drive.

The township board approved an updated zoning ordinance for the next five years. Changes include a section for mini-warehouses, to cover self-storage businesses, and the prohibition of internally lighted signs along US-2, with the exception several owned by businesses near St. Ignace. The new ordinance will go into effect seven days after a copy of it is published in The St. Ignace News.

Mr. Durm said the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has sent him grant application information about scrap tire cleanup. That’s difficult in rural areas, he said, because it’s hard to find a transporter to haul away the tires for safe disposal.

The board approved paying Koorsen Fire and Security $85 for annual inspection of its fire extinguishers. The township recently acquired nine new extinguishers, two for the township hall, two for the Gros Cap Church, and five for the Doc Holle’s Silver Mountain Skiing and Tubing Hill.

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