Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Wakefield board discusses snowmobile noise complaints


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Wakefield - Snowmobile season in Gogebic County started on Sunday, and it is expected to start in Iron County on Thursday at 8 a.m.

That means drivers of such machines have months of riding ahead until trails close in the spring.

On Tuesday evening, however, members of the Wakefield Township Board of Trustees were reminded not everyone appreciates the noise associated with the operation of these vehicles.

According to Township Supervisor John Cox, that's because "trail can" exhausts, which increase the racket, are popular with certain riders, especially the younger crowd.

Cox said noise has become a serious issue for the Apache Drive subdivision, which is next to Big Snow Resort's Indianhead Mountain in the township.

A snowmobile trail next to the subdivision attracts drivers at all hours of the night, and some of them are causing regular complaints of noise from subdivision residents.

Cox reported to the board that Indianhead officials are working on a cost estimate of signs to be placed at each end of the subdivision. He said the signs will alert riders that the area will be subject to "noise enforcement" rulings.

The supervisor said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources also will send personnel, as needed, to crack down on people disturbing the peace.

Cox said it is especially important to have DNR monitors during holiday seasons as "that's when it's the worst."

Trustee Jerry Niemi said subdivision residents need to have the problem resolved because there are no options to reroute snowmobile trails to a different geographical area.

Cox added that it also might be possible to abate the problem to some degree by encouraging high snow banks to act as sound buffers near the subdivision.

The supervisor said Steve Hamilton, president of the Gogebic Range Trail Authority, will alert snowmobile drivers to any trail issues, including situations of law enforcement.

The DNR states that snowmobile noise should not exceed 88 decibels at 13 feet. Violating the sound level ordinance can result in fines of more than $200 or even snowmobile impoundment.

In other business, board members voted to appoint Trustee Jim Spencer to the Gogebic Range Water Authority.

The board will meet next with the Wakefield Township Planning Commission on Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. The township's pending master plan will be the topic of discussion. The next regular meeting of the board will be on Jan. 7, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.

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