2017-12-07 / Front Page

State to ‘swap’ land locally

Landowners in Hiawatha Township built on state land

Above, the property in question is pointed out. 
Courtesy graphic Above, the property in question is pointed out. Courtesy graphic MANISTIQUE – A group of area landowners will likely be “swapping” acreage with the state in order to retain their structure after inadvertently building on state land. The swap was discussed during a recent meeting of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners.

According to a letter written by Bob Burnham, unit manager for the DNR Forest Resources Division in Shingleton, to the board, the state “has been reaching out to local units of government in an effort to talk strategically about land ownership and planning in the communities where state-owned land is present.” Burnham pointed out that in the summer of 2013, the DNR determined that a private building in Hiawatha Township was encroaching on state land.

“The building, which is owned by a group of owners termed ‘The Shack’ in the plat book, is quite old,” Burnham explained. “Since the discovery, we have been working with the group to resolve the issue. We have agreed in principle on a resolution which we feel benefits both parties.”

This resolution would involve an exchange of land between the state and The Shack owners.

“The state is going to trade 6.4 acres of state land to The Shack owners that will encompass their entire building, as well as provide them direct ownership all the wat to the Big Ditch,” Burnham said. “In return, the state will get the eastern half (20 acres) of their parcel. The trade favors the state roughly three to one in acreage. However, the parcel we are trading is water frontage; therefore the monetary value of the trade is similar.”

He added that the DNR staff is supportive of the proposed land exchange and have recommended that it be approved by the DNR director. Burnham requested that a written response, with any questions or concerns, be submitted to the DNR by Dec. 1.

According to Commissioner Craig Reiter, the county may benefit from the exchange.

“The state’s acquiring more land than it’s giving, however, it’s giving lakefront property,” he explained. “So the tax implications are higher than what we had … the county is coming out a little ahead on this.”

Commissioner Dan Hoholik moved to accept the DNR’s land trade proposal.

Commissioner Larry Mersnick questioned how the DNR found out about the structure being located on state property.

Reiter noted that the DNR didn’t explain how they made the discovery, only that they had made it.

Commissioner Chris Rantanen said the state has been re-mapping land and that is likely why the discovery was made.

“They’ve (the landowners) been here a long time, thinking they were on their property because that’s what, years ago, it said,” she explained. “Actually, since they (the state) GPS-mapped it, they found out the cabin is actually on state property.”

Mersnick pointed out that the landowners were “lucky” the state had proposed the swap. He added that landowners will have to be careful about where they build so they do not have to “ask for forgiveness later”.

The motion was unanimously approved by commissioners. Board Chairperson Allan Ott was absent.

In other business, the board also agreed to accept an approximately $17,500 grant to pay for the training of five Schoolcraft County Sheriff’s Department employees. According to Sheriff Paul Furman, the grant will fund the travel costs and training supplies – essentially the entire training.

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