2008-07-24 / Front Page

County begins process to adopt ORV ordinance

By Glenn Schicker

Roscommon County Commissioners Wednesday approved a letter of intent to adopt an ordinance allowing use of off-road vehicles on some county road rights-of-way. Gov. Jennifer Granholm July 17 signed a law giving counties the authority to take that action.

The letter of intent will go to the Roscommon County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It states a public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held within 45 days.

Denton and several other townships have endorsed a plan drafted by a committee led by Roscommon County Road Commission Manager Tim O'Rourke. According to O'Rourke, the plan calls for 32 miles of county road shoulders to be open to ORV traffic. The routes would allow ORV access year-round to business areas near the intersection of M-55 and Old 27, as well as in Roscommon Village and two areas in Lyon Township. A "winter zone" around Houghton and Higgins Lakes would allow ORV's to travel onto the frozen water. O'Rourke said specific road ends may be designated for winter lake access.

County commissioners indicated Wednesday they plan to follow a master ordinance drafted by the Michigan Motorized Recreation Council for the 43 counties affected by the new law, with legal counsel from the Michigan Association of Counties.

"Hopefully, we have uniform ordinances in all of northern Michigan," Dick Ranney, coordinator of the Michigan Motorized Recreation Council, said.

"This now makes it clearly legal for Michigan counties and townships to open their roadways to ORV use on the 'far right,' at a speed no greater than 25 mph, once a local ordinance is adopted," Ranney said. "All youths must have DNR ORV safety training and be under visual supervision of an adult, able to come to their immediate aid as per current law."

"Once a county adopts [an ordinance], every township is in, unless they choose to opt out. If after one year, a county doesn't adopt an ordinance, a township may."

Glenn Schicker can be reached at glenn.schicker@ houghtonlakeresorter.com or 275-4380.

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