2017-10-12 / Life in Leelanau

Residents’ plates tell of pride for Leelanau


KAREN CHASE of Leland owns the “M-22” license designation for North Carolina. KAREN CHASE of Leland owns the “M-22” license designation for North Carolina. Jim Bemister of Bingham Township questions whether the term “vanity plate” is accurate for Leelanau drivers who choose to boast of their residency.

“Some people say this is vain, but so what,” says Bemister, who has a license plate on his GMC pickup with the designation “M22JAB.” The letters and numbers stand for the state highway he lives near and his initials.

“I love the message. And why not promote the area. You can’t have too much promotion,” he added.

Bemister isn’t alone. On any given day vehicles in Leelanau are driven up and down the county with plates that sport the very name of the road they travel.

Leelanau’s name can be found on plates in other states, too.

“I’ve been to other states and seen the M-22 on license plates,” Bemister said.


JIM BEMISTER of Bingham Township looks over a custom license plate that pays homage to M-22. JIM BEMISTER of Bingham Township looks over a custom license plate that pays homage to M-22. In fact, having a car registered in North Carolina is the only way Karen Chase of Leland figures she and husband David Bellizi managed to get an “M-22” designation. It’s on a “Friends of the Smokies” style plate attached to their 2013 black Ford Flex.

“We got it because I live on M-22 in Leland,” she explained. “Usually people have a connection with M-22.”

The couple also has a 2003 black Mustang with a “LELAND2” plate.

“We were fortunate to get that one,” Chase said.

She also has an old “LELAND” plate from Florida. “I have that one hanging in my garage.”

Chase said it was obvious on a recent Sunday morning that the popularity of M-22 is not waning.

“I walked to the beach in Leland and I noticed two more M-22 signs were gone,” she said.

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