Land issues top Schoolcraft County meeting

MANISTIQUE — Land and land use issues dominated the Schoolcraft County Commission meeting Thursday night. A land swap, farmland preservation and a property dispute were on the agenda.

In 2013, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources determined a private building in Hiawatha Township was encroaching on state land. The building had been there for years, and is owned by a group called “The Shack.” Since the discovery, the DNR has been working with the group to reclaim its property. A land exchange has been proposed that will take the approximately 20 acres from the Shack and give it to the DNR. In return, the Shack group will receive 6.4 acres of state land. While the trade favors the state by about three to one, the private group is getting a parcel with water frontage. In a letter to the commissioners, Bob Burnam of the DNR Shingleton office asked if they had any objections. Having none, the board supported the request.

A large propane tank in Thompson Township has been the subject of a disagreement between neighbors. Concerned that the clash could end up in court, Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Noble asked for direction from the board as to whether he should work with county Building Inspector Mark Rivard or if the county would rather retain an outside attorney. Commissioner Larry Mersnick said he thought Rivard and Noble shouldwork together until Noble felt it should be turned over to another attorney. “I know about this problem,” Mersnick said. “The zoning board has addressed it and there will never be another tank like this one allowed, but it’s here now and it was approved, so it’s grandfathered in.

The commissioners also approved a request from David Robere of Cooks to submit an application to the state Farm Land and Open Space Preservation program. The Soil Conservation District had also approved the request so the application will be sent to the state office for processing.

Sheriff Paul Furman reported the department had received a grant for $17,554 for training five more of his staff. “It’s great,” he said. “This covers everything the training, supplies and travel. It won’t cost us anything.” Furman added he is looking into inmate medical coverage.

“We intend to do it ourselves. We don’t need a contract with a provider,” Furman said.

He added the plan the department has was supposed to have cost $48,500, but “it ended up at $82,000.” He told the board he expects to present details at the next meeting.

In other action, the board approved the appointment of the Rev. Diann Bowler of Germfask to the Commission on Aging. Her term ends in 2019. “This is great to have someone from Germfask,” remarked Commissioner Chris Rantanen.