2017-06-18 / News

Officials consider road closure near shooting pit

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 •


A sign warns those who turn onto Byers Road from Roods Lake Road that Byers is not maintained by the Lapeer County Road Commission. Officials want to formally abandon the road. 
Photos by Andrew Dietderich A sign warns those who turn onto Byers Road from Roods Lake Road that Byers is not maintained by the Lapeer County Road Commission. Officials want to formally abandon the road. Photos by Andrew Dietderich MAYFIELD TWP. — Local and state officials want to abandon and close part of a road near the Lapeer Shooting Pit with hopes to curb excessive shooting and dumping of trash, but not everyone is onboard with the idea.

The Mayfield Township Board of Trustees discussed the possibility of abandoning a half-mile of Byers Road, which is the road immediately to the north of the Lapeer Shooting Pit on Roods Lake Road.

Township Supervisor Dianna Ireland said the road would be gated shut during non-hunting times of the year. The land on both sides of the road is part of the Lapeer State Game area.

Ireland said the road commission already has effectively abandoned the portion of the road that has deep ruts and ditches and is barely drivable in a passenger vehicle. A sign warns those who turn onto the Byers Road from Roods Lake Road that it is “not maintained by the Lapeer County Road Commission.”


Piles of garbage are dumped in spots along Byers Road, including this large mound of tires. Piles of garbage are dumped in spots along Byers Road, including this large mound of tires. “The (Lapeer County Road Commission) would like to formally abandon it, the DNR would like to formally abandon it, and all the residents in the area would like to formally abandon it,” Ireland said.

“People are now going from the shooting range and just starting up their own shooting range there if they can’t get in or if they have to leave early at 7 p.m.,” she added.

Ireland made a motion to pass a resolution abandoning the road. It was seconded by Trustee Beth Potter-Knowlton.

The motion identified the half-mile portion of the road and said it “is no longer being used as a public road, that no building of any kind or character are situated thereon and that the same should be absolutely abandoned and discontinued.”

In the discussion that followed, not all board members were immediately supportive of the idea.

“I asked a few people (who say) ‘We’ve already given so much property to the state, to the DNR, that they don’t let us use our own property,’” said Clerk Julie Schlaud. “They’ll gate it off, then you can’t go back there to hunt, there’s nowhere to park…I don’t know.”

Ireland said if the road were to be abandoned and gates installed, there would not only be enough room to park, but also for vehicles — including road graders and emergency — to turn around.

The area around the popular Lapeer Shooting Pit has been the subject of debate in recent years.

Due to complaints from neighbors, local police have been called to the shooting pit at least 70 times in the last two years, according to Lapeer County dispatch.

In late April, the DNR reissued a press release reinforcing the rules at the shooting pit. The agency also released a video specific to the Lapeer Shooting Pit that can be viewed at youtube/

2-QZBlvCzfw.

The agency identifies some issues as congestion of people, unsafe use of targets, early morning or late-night shooting, and damage to habitat and restoration efforts (tree damage, litter, etc.).

The DNR also has vowed more frequent law enforcement patrols of the area, and said “safe, lawful shooting will be enforced regularly.”

The DNR said in its release that “unlawful and unsafe target shooting” at the pit has caused “user conflicts and management issues.”

Further, the DNR has hired a team of acousticians from Gainsville, Fla. — based Siebein Associates to conduct sound tests in the area.

A DNR spokesman said it will take at least three months for information collected to be further analyzed via computer modeling to be completed by Siebein. It could lead to changes, according to the DNR.

Abandoning the road would address issues that are occurring around the area of the Lapeer Shooting Pit.

“Mainly, they’re going in there and shooting up everything,” Ireland said during Monday’s meeting. “They’re shooting up the trees…they’re bring junk back there.”

As recent as Friday, mounts of garbage were found dumped in various spots along the road, including large piles of tires and building materials.

Still, Mayfield Township Trustee Dan Engelman raised the issue of why addressing the problem is a priority now.

“That’s nothing different than what’s been going on for the last 60 years back there,” he said. “Give them that piece of road… other people enjoying that road, hiking, riding their horses through there, riding bicycles through there, whatever, it’s gone. It takes away from them just because these people want to go shoot. Now we want to penalize these other people that want to go back there.”

Ireland responded by pointing out the extent of the road’s condition that has had people getting their vehicles stuck.

“That’s their problem,” Engelman said, noting that there was some discussion about the resolution amongst board members prior to Monday’s public meeting.

Potter-Knowlton — who indicated she seconded the motion so that discussion could take place — said she needed to learn more about the current status of the road before making a decision.

“If we’re going to vote…I guess I’d like to do it next month,” she said. “I’d like to drive back there again, look at (the resolution) a little more, and maybe talk to somebody at the road commission.”

Ireland withdrew her motion to allow for more research to be conducted by her fellow board members.

Should the township pass the resolution to abandon Byers Road, the road commission would still need to hold a public hearing and approve the abandonment. The road commission meets next on July 19.

Mayfield Township’s next regular board meeting is 5:30 p.m., Monday, July 10 at the township hall on Saginaw Road.

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