By Lynne Beauchamp, firstname.lastname@example.org
As petitioned for by many residents on and near Scully Road in Webster Township, the Washtenaw County Board of County Road Commissioners voted in favor of abandoning Scully Road north of Walsh.
The vote (3-0) came on January 15 at a regular meeting of the Washtenaw County Board of County Road Commissioners, which followed a Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) public hearing on January 8.
According to WCRC documents, the background for the abandonment request came in the fall of 2018 when property owners along Scully Road approached WCRC to discuss the permit application submitted by Peters Building Company in which Peters Building Company submitted a permit application to WCRC to remove the gate at the southern end of the Mystic Ridge Subdivision in Hamburg Township which would provide full access to the northern section of Scully Road in Webster Township
In order to go further in the application process, Peters Building Company would be required to improve Scully Road as a condition of the permit per WCRC (which would include tree removal, road widening
According to WCRC documents; as required by law, a public hearing was scheduled to listen to input as the board’s consideration of the abandonment petition.
From the WCRC documents from the January 8 public hearing, several individuals, for or against, the abandonment of Scully Road spoke. Among those- Alan Gilman, lead petitioner, spoke on behalf of the request for abandonment petition which included nearly 40 signatures. Gilman said the opening of Scully Road would have negative impacts on this community including increased traffic and environmental impacts.
Bill McMillan also spoke and said he had concerns of the effects of widening and paving Scully Road for the benefit of a neighboring township.
Scott Pecheco spoke on behalf of Hamburg Township, reading a memo from the Township opposing the abandonment of Scully Road as Scully Road was a “needed access to Mystic Ridge Subdivision”.
John Kingsley, Webster Township Supervisor, said he received input from residents and stated the Township supports their residents on the abandonment of a portion of Scully Road furthermore, in November 2018 the Webster Township Board unanimously adopted Resolution #17-17, opposing opening Mystic Ridge to Scully Road, in support of the petitioners and recognizing to do so would cause greater vehicle traffic and unsafe road conditions on Scully Road.
Jim Haeussler, Peters Building Company, disagreed with the petition for abandonment and believes that Peters Building Company will still have legal access for the Mystic Ridge Subdivision if the road is abandoned. He also questioned how, if Scully Road becomes private, will it be maintained.
Chief Robert Smith, Dexter Area Fire Department, sent a letter to WCRC opposing the abandonment of Scully Road stating the many challenges his department is faced with including private roads not being built or maintained to accommodate a fire apparatus therefore delaying response time. He also had concerns of not being able to access a water supply in Mystic Ridge Subdivision via Scully Road. Without this access, the next water source is over 10 miles away.
After hearing public input and receiving written comments the vote to “absolutely abandon and discontinue the portion of Scully Road, north of Walsh Road in Webster Township, excepting and reserving an easement for public utility purposes.” With this, that portion of Scully Road is now considered a private road by WCRC.
In a later interview, one resident on the now private road section, who wished to remain anonymous, said he has lived there for more than 20 years and was against the abandonment of Scully Road but was also against Peters Building Company doing the necessary road improvements to have access to Scully Road from the Mystic Ridge Subdivision and the potential for increased traffic and increased housing development.
“I felt like I was being railroaded [by Peters Building Company and Hamburg Township]” said the resident. He said he felt going for the abandonment of Scully Road was “putting the cart before the horse” and wanted to try other options first. He added he was pleased with his neighbors’ decision to petition for the abandonment but wished there had been another way. “We were forced to do this to keep a quality of life that we all admire and love.”
“I just wanted to keep it the way it is, just leave us alone,” said the resident who did not want Scully Road abandoned but more so wanted to prevent full access to Scully Road from Hamburg Township.
The resident said that since the recent snow storm, neighbors have come together with tractors and plows to clear Scully Road. He added that there will come a time when neighbors will need to come together to decide on how to continue to maintain the road. He also said that within just a few days of the vote to abandon, WCRC had put up a “private road” sign on Scully Road north of Walsh.
As far as Peters Building Company and further development of Mystic Ridge Subdivision, Jim Haeussler with Peters Building Company had this to say-
“We are evaluating it now,” said Haeussler who was against WCRC abandoning Scully Road. He said he had an easement to access Scully Road and said he was under an active permit application with WCRC to access the road, but the abandonment changes everything. He added this is an uncommon circumstance and is looking at what has been done in the past in this type of situation.