City denies ATV trail easement

MARQUETTE – The Marquette City Commission denied an easement request Monday that would have allowed the creation of an all-terrain vehicle trail on the city’s former Heartwood Forestland property.

The proposed trail – the request was made by the Trail-riders Enthusiast Alliance of Marquette County – would have been about 3.2 miles long. One-quarter mile of the path would have been located on the Marquette Township well field.

The city purchased the 2,400-acre parcel of land for $5 million in the spring of 2005. Commissioner Fred Stonehouse said Monday he saw no place for ATVs on the land.

“I have seen very little good about the ATV industry,” he said.

Other commissioners expressed reticence at approving a trail on a section of Heartwood land identified as a “conservation area.” That label was applied during the initial land review following the Heartwood purchase.

At that time, the city had committed to a future public review of the land.

Commissioner Mike Coyne said he was not prepared to make decisions about the future of the Heartwood property without further planning discussions.

“I don’t have any clue what the plan for this is, what’s there for recreation, what’s there for wildlife,” he said. “Once we get a plan … then we can more logically say, ‘OK. Is there a place for multi-use?'”

Commissioner Sara Cambensy suggested having the board’s strategic planning committee – which includes commissioners Coyne, Don Ryan and Bob Niemi and was appointed earlier in Monday’s meeting – look at future plans for the land.

In May of 2012, the group denied a purchase request from the Noquemanon Trail Network for a similar reason.

“We committed to full public examination of (this) land. We said we would make that a full public process and we have not done that,” Stonehouse said at the time. “We owe that to the public.”

In other action, the commission:

  • Appointed a subcommittee of commissioners Stonehouse, Cambensy and Jason Schneider to suggest a process for reviewing the city manager and attorney.
  • Approved a resolution supporting an application for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant. The grant would fund the city’s purchase of a piece of lakefront property, which will be converted to a city park.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.