CADILLAC — Community feedback prompted Cadillac City Council to reject a proposal to add snowmobile trails downtown.
At their Monday meeting, council unanimously agreed (Councillor Stephen King was not present) not to pursue further discussions on the proposal, which was drafted by city staff after receiving a request to add snowmobile routes to G and D Pizza and the Willow Mercantile.
In a presentation of the proposal, Community Development Manager John Wallace outlined several potential routes that would bring snowmobiles closer to downtown businesses, some starting from the White Pine Trail, others starting from the town wharf on the Cadillac Lake and others formed by a combination of the two starting points.
As a preamble to the council’s discussion of the matter, however, Cadillac City Manager Marcus Peccia said there was no silver bullet to this request because whatever decision is made, someone one would be disappointed.
On the one hand, businesses in the city would like to be able to serve additional customers arriving downtown by snowmobile, which they currently cannot do. On the other hand, trips to town would inevitably bring snowmobiles closer to residential areas.
Council member Tiyi Schippers said it seemed ‘counterintuitive’ to him that the council was considering adding snowmobile trails to the city during the same meeting that it was considering giving the police department more power to enforce noise ordinances related to motor vehicles (more on that later).
“That doesn’t feel right to me,” Schippers said.
Councilman Bryan Elenbaas pointed out that it might be instructive to examine why the city banned snowmobiles in downtown areas in the first place.
Mayor Carla Filkins said she was initially very supportive of the idea as a way to help businesses in the city, but after receiving extensive feedback from residents she changed her mind.
“I don’t hear anything positive about it from townspeople,” said Filkins, who added that it’s not just the noise from snowmobiles that’s potentially harmful, but also the damage that machines could cause to the city’s infrastructure.
“I think we have to make decisions based on people who live in town, not snowmobilers who want to go to restaurants downtown,” Filkins said.
After council made the decision not to proceed with the proposal, resident David McMahon said he was “sad” to see a town like Cadillac, which is a county seat town in a four-season condition, not allowing snowmobilers access to downtown. .
He added that he knows people who can’t even ride their snowmobiles from their homes in town to the White Pine Trail.
Another resident, Amanda Phillips, praised the council for its actions. From her residence on Granite Street, Phillips said she faced “constant problems” from noise from snowmobiles and, in one case, a machine that got stuck in a fence near her home. She said that while snowmobiles are legally allowed in the city center, she fears for the safety of children in the city.
On Monday, the Council also discussed and held hearings on four orders relating to “noisy or riotous people; noise (of motor vehicles); exhibition management; and the smells of marijuana.
During the first public comment, a number of people expressed concern about these orders; one of the most frequently expressed concerns was that people would not be able to ride their motorcycles in town due to excessive motor vehicle noise language.
Cadillac Director of Public Safety Adam Ottjepka clarified some of the misconceptions surrounding these ordinances, including that they banned motorcycles in the city, which is not true at all.
After those clarifications, the council voted to schedule public hearings on the ordinances for their next meeting on March 21.
Read Wednesday’s edition of the Cadillac News to learn about the ensuing discussion regarding these proposed orders, as well as other actions the board took on Monday.