2017-03-02 / Local News

Bingham OKs street lights, waits on Trail signs

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

Motorists on S. West Bayshore Drive (M-22) through Bingham Township soon will have a little easier time picking out intersections along the state highway at night.

The Bingham Township Board on Monday authorized “outdoor lighting lease agreements” with Cherryland Electric Cooperative, which will install streetlights at three intersections along the busy thoroughfare.

The lights will be located on existing Cherryland Electric power poles at the corners of M-22 and Shady Lane, Hilltop Road and Lee Point Road.

Township supervisor Midge Werner explained that the lights will be installed, maintained and powered by Cherryland Electric using its own equipment. The township will pay $13 per month for each of the three lights to remain. Installation was slated to occur later this winter.

Township zoning administrator Steve Patmore said the lights are designed to be energy efficient and downward-facing to illuminate only the roadway – not the night sky.

Werner said that late at night it’s easy to drive right past some of the intersections because it’s so dark, and the lights will at least mark the location of the intersections.

The Township Board voted 4-0 on a motion by treasurer Sandra Grant, supported by Trustee Gary McGhee, to approve the three lease agreements. Trustee Brad Saxton was absent.

The monthly meeting was rescheduled from last week to accommodate an out-of-town trip by Werner.

Also present Monday was Chris Kushman, Planning and Management Director the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc., which owns and operates the Leelanau Trail.

Kushman told board members that TART was seeking a resolution of support for TART’s effort to have the Leelanau County Road Commission install signs stating “no parking between signs” at intersections of the trail and several county roads.

Kushman explained that some trail users are parking cars on county roads immediately adjacent to the trail, limiting sight distance for other trail users trying to cross county roads. The signs would direct motorists to park cars 50 to 150 feet from the intersections.

A similar effort in Elmwood Township in November resulted in the Elmwood Township Board quickly approving the TART request for a letter of support to establish parking setbacks at trail crossings of county roads through the township.

Bingham Township has a more storied history with TART Trails, however. The township and the Leelanau Trail Association, which subsequently transferred the trail to TART, were embroiled in a bitter lawsuit for more than a decade over zoning.

Werner informed Kushman that before the Township Board acted on TART’s request, board members would like more information.

The Township Board agreed by consensus that it might consider TART’s request again next month if TART can show that it has approached the Sheriff’s Department about enforcement of new parking restrictions, that TART is doing more to educate trail users about the need to stop at intersections, and that TART is moving toward construction of its own parking lots at areas along the trail that were authorized following settlement of the protracted lawsuit between the township and operators of the trail.

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