2017-12-07 / Local News

Task force resumes meeting with eye toward Greilickville future

Where to locate M-22?
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

Elmwood Township officials and “stakeholders” along the M-22 commercial corridor in southeastern Leelanau County met Tuesday to discuss the future of what many think of as the “gateway to Leelanau County.”

The group of public officials and private property owners is known as the Greilickville Commercial Corridor Task Force. The group was formed during the tenure of former two-term township supervisor Jack Kelly who opted not to run for a third four-year term last year.

The last meeting of the task force was in November 2016. Current township supervisor Jeff Shaw convened this week’s meeting and invited all the same people and organizations, including Kelly.

Near the top of the list of discussion items was a $17,500 grant-funded study the Elmwood Township Board approved earlier this year to begin considering whether the idea of swapping locations of M-22 and the Leelanau Trail between M-72 and Cherry Bend Road is worth pursuing.

During a two-hour meeting Tuesday afternoon, the group heard from engineer Heather Harris-Brady of the local Gourdie-Fraser engineering firm, which won a contract to conduct the preliminary study. Harris-Brady has been working with the task force since it was formed and played a key role in creation of a Greilickville Commercial Corridor Sub-Area Master Plan that the township adopted in 2012.

According to Shaw, Harris-Brady made it clear that the study she and other Gourdie-Fraser engineers are conducting will not contain a definitive answer to how traffic flow issues along M-22 in Greilickville should be solved. Instead, the study will look closely at how the township can position itself to acquire more grants so more studies can be done.

“You don’t get a lot of engineering for $17,500, especially for something as complicated as this,” Shaw explained. “It could cost $100,000 or more just to conduct a wetlands study to see if any of the ideas that are being discussed are even possible.”

The area between the Leelanau Trail and M-22 through Greilickville has a substantial amount of wetland which may not support a relocated M-22. Shaw said Harris-Brady’s study will also take into account several other ideas already approved by the township as part of its Master Plan.

Chief among those ideas is possible construction of a service drive connecting parking lots of various businesses lining the west side of M-22. Such a connection paralleling M-22 would allow motorists to avoid turning out on to M-22 every time they go from one of those properties to the next, thus alleviating some of the traffic congestion.

At its meeting this week, the task force also heard from Dave Conrad, representing owners of the Centerpointe Building on M-22 opposite Cherry Bend Road. The building is owned by the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch brewery fame. The building and its private marina directly abut the Elmwood Township Marina.

One of the early accomplishments of the task force included support for creation of a new, long-range master plan for the marina. In addition, the task force played a role in advocating for a state-approved study of traffic flow through Greilickville between M-72 and Cherry Bend Road.

Shaw reported that a representative of the Discovery Center, John Noonan, also participated in the meeting, along with Mike Wells of Rotary Charities which owns the center’s property along the corridor. The Discovery Center is a collection of water-related non-profit and business organizations, many of which operate from Discovery Pier on West Grand Traverse Bay.

This year, the Discovery Center participated in an experimental project with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to install a seasonal pedestrian crossing of M-22 between the center and the pier. Officials have declared that project a success, and it’s possible more crossings will be installed in the years ahead.

Ron Walters, a principal of the West Shore Hotel and Marina project that is now under development on M-22 in Greilickville, was also in attendance at this week’s task force meeting. According to Shaw, Walters indicated that he hopes a seasonal pedestrian crossing of M-22 will be added to serve the West Shore property as well.

Shaw noted that officials of MDOT have been participating in task force meetings for many years now, and this week was no exception. He said MDOT official Patty O’Donnell attended this week’s meeting and took many questions from other participants. Officially, MDOT has not yet expressed a formal opinion on plans under discussion by the task force, Shaw said.

Task force members also heard from township zoning administrator and planner Sara Kopriva, Shaw said. Kopriva presented a briefing on the township’s new zoning ordinance and master plan. She also discussed an upcoming series of public input sessions on possible future development of the M-72 corridor between the Traverse City limits off M-22 and the township line just west of Harry’s Rd.

The public input sessions will be held at the Elmwood Township Hall next Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 10 a.m. until noon, and 4-6 p.m..; and Thursday, Dec. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m.

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