Decision needed on Iron Belle Trail

By Susan Bromley
Staff Writer
Brandon Twp.- The township is being asked to give an answer on the Iron Belle Trail a lot sooner than planned.
A subcommittee formed earlier this month with appointments to last until Nov. 20, 2018, may not have to serve quite that long. The subcommittee met as a whole on Tuesday for the first time, joined by Kristen Wiltfang, senior planner for Oakland County Economic Development and Community Affairs, who made a request.
“She basically told us we need to make a decision fairly quickly as to whether we want a segment of the Iron Belle Trail to come through the township,” said Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman. “They will plan the route around the township if we are not interested in having it come through. The state wants to know by October because they want to get commitments of where the trail is going to be routed to.”

The trail subcommittee consists of Thurman, Treasurer Terri Darnall, Trustee Kris Kordella, as well as four residents serving in a volunteer capacity— Dwight Woodbridge, Paul Barber, Jennifer Bickel, and Candice Hill. The subcommittee was formed to compile questions and research answers to all of the components involved in building and maintaining a portion of the Iron Belle Trail in the township, including liability, safety, crime, privacy and property values.
Brandon Township, as well as the Village of Ortonville, Groveland Township, and Atlas Township, are all on the proposed biking route for the Iron Belle Trail, a state project which seeks to establish two continuous trails, one for biking and one for hiking, from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula. The routes were carefully chosen to utilize existing trails in the state to which new trails could connect and be the safest for trail users and the environment and least expensive for communities. The biking trail is proposed to traverse 791 miles, includes the Polly Ann Trail in Oxford and Orion, and would include at least seven miles of trail in Brandon.
Last year, Brandon Township officials conducted a trail survey about four potential routes in the community to which 558 people responded, with 40 percent expressing support for Route C, a 7.7 mile route using the ITC corridor, which had an estimated construction cost of $4,968,900, the safest and least expensive of the four routes.
However, the board removed route c from consideration after passing a resolution drafted and brought by Trustee Scott Broughton, who lives along the proposed route.
Broughton was joined by Clerk Candee Allen, Treasurer Terri Darnall, and Trustee Bob Marshall in passing the resolution. Thurman and Trustees Dana DePalma and Kris Kordella voted no on removing the route.
Following that decision, residents along Route A, which is 7.6 miles from Baldwin to Sherwood to Sashabaw to Hummer Lake to Mill Street, and estimated to cost $5,851,400.00, also requested their route be removed. That action has not been taken. Instead, the board voted for the subcommittee.
Other routes under consideration are Route B, which is Seymour Lake to the ITC corridor to Granger to Hadley to Hummer Lake to Mill for 9.7 miles and costs $7,918,510; and Route D, from Baldwin to Granger to Hadley to Hummer Lake to Mill Street and stretches 8 miles for $8,127,205. The board may also discuss the non-survey option of placing the Iron Belle Trail in the township alongside Seymour Lake Road and M-15.
Proponents of the trail have cited health and economic benefits of a trail, as well as the lack of safe places to walk and bike in this community.
The subcommittee has a number of questions already that they will begin researching the answers to, but are seeking more questions that the community would like answered. Questions can be sent to
“We are going to try and compile all the questions within the next two weeks and start working on finding answers,” said Thurman. “We hope to have some type of recommendation to bring to the board in September. I don’t know if the state needs a route by October, but they need to know if we are going to commit to the trail. I am thinking that if we decide to have a trail, we would be working pretty quickly on a route. If the board can’t reach a decision, that is more or less saying we can’t or are not ready to do it.”
The next trail subcommittee meeting is planned for 3 p.m., Aug. 9, at the township offices, 395 Mill St.

10 Responses to "Decision needed on Iron Belle Trail"

  1. Tom Sanders   July 31, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    How can Route C be revisited? What relevance does a Trustee’s personal residence have with Township decisions? The right thing would be to have the Trustee have a voice but no vote. Only then as a member of this community would I be comfortable their decision. I would like to see progress made in the township. I do not know Mr. Broughton. I think he should know that drafting a resolution and bringing it to vote, that has the appearance of serving himself at the expense of others in the township is highly questionable. I would like to see the trail in our township, I’m not sure which route would be the best, I just feel that all should be considered.

  2. Dan   July 31, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    The poor excuse that this wasn’t an issue dealing with money was used to let him vote on the issue and not be a conflict of interest. If you look at the cost of the different routes, money is very much involved and his voting for or against is a huge conflict of interest and the fact that the board voted a route option away before knowing all the cost and other factors of all the routes was very short sided.

  3. Starlyn Unangst   August 7, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    I have lived on Seymour Lake since 1986. We moved here because it was a welcome relief from the crowded, impersonal lifestyle we grew up with in Royal Oak & Huntington Woods. The people on & around Seymour Lake that I have personally spoken to (I went knocking on doors here to ask what neighbors thought of having the trail put along Seymour Lake) vehemently objected to this. Would you try & force the trail to be put from Seymour Lake Road to M15 even though we don’t want it? If Trustee Scott Broughton’s objection stopped the use of route C, many more residents along Seymour Lake do not want the trail here. There is no logical reason for Ortonville to be part of this Iron Belle Trail. Do we want more crime, more future taxes to cover maintenance, a less secure community. No we do not. Sincerely, Starlyn Unangst, Secretary of Seymour Lake Association.

  4. Michael Raczkowski   August 9, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    With all due respect, there is no evidence to suggest that building what amounts to a nice sidewalk will reduce the safety of a neighborhood. This trail will not bring traffic from Detroit any more than it will bring traffic from Ironwood. I am sure that if you went knocking on doors asking people if they wanted a trail “from Detroit” to go across their front yard they would say “no”. If, on the other hand, you knocked on doors and asked if people would like a bike and running trail that would connect them to the popular Poly Ann Trail in Lake Orion that would also allow them to bike or jog to Ortonville, you would get a different answer. I have lived on Seymour Lake Rd for 23 years and would welcome a bike trail that would give us easy access to the Poly Ann Trail and Ortonville.

  5. David Brusen   August 12, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Route C was and is the only logical route!!! Why this route was allowed to be removed by a trustee that lives on that route is absurd!!!! We then should also, as property owners in the twp. to remove routes that go by our houses!!!! And now this same trustee is sitting on the subcommittee????? Sure sounds like shady dealings and belive me there will be a whole new board before this is over!!
    Because of all this, my answer to a trail is POSITIVELY NO!!!!
    Opinions on routes are not sought, but Broughton’s opinion matters…. NOT FAIR BOARD MEMBERS!!!

  6. Cindy Thebo   August 12, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    No, my husband and I don’t want a trail through Brandon Township. We are on one of the routes and don’t want it in our front yard. We got out of the city many, many years ago to be away from people and don’t want them now. You go on Sashabaw where the trail is going in between the county park and Oakhill road and at this time one of the houses is up for sale. The trail is within 50 feet or less of their house. Only one of my neighbors wants the trail but most of them don’t.

  7. Mike Youngmeier   August 13, 2017 at 12:38 am

    As senior citizens who are Ortonville residents, we are opposed to having the Iron Belle Trail go through Ortonville. What a waste of taxpayer dollars when money should be used on roads & infrastructure – things needed by all citizens. Let the trail bypass Ortonville & another community can pay the maintenance costs if they want it.

  8. donna singles   August 17, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    It would be a great thing for the community and for the township. Trails are an asset to any community and I would use it as well as my family. I would actually like it to be close to my property to that I could get to it by foot. Look and talk to other places like Rochester. What a beautiful addition to that community. Everyone always wants something, but not in their own backyard. Step up Township and make a good decision in favor of the trail.

  9. Helmut Wolf   September 5, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    I’am all for The Iron Bell Trail.

  10. Paul Neumann   September 11, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    I see the trail sub committee has passed out another misleading flyer. It says”ALMOST ENTIRELY FUNDED BY GRANTS ” . But it doesn’t say it will cost 60000 + a year to maintain it and police it. These people are trying to turn Ortonville into Oxford or Rochester. Feel free to move there if you want a trail so bad. Oh wait. Those towns are so over populated no one wants to move there. Peace and serenity are apart of Ortonville. Leave the hustle and bustle for the fools who wanna live in that environment. Ortonville is fine without trails. If you moved here for the trails,you made a mistake. We who live here have already seen the overpopulation issues an asset to pure michigan will bring. Vote NO. Once its here. Taxes will only go up to maintain it and keep it safe.


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