The Snowmobile Committee is expected to recommend routes and times for snowmobile use in the City of Whitehall to the city council at its meeting this Tuesday (Nov. 27).
The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.
Given the short holiday week last week, City Attorney Rodger Sweeting attempted to make the formal ordinance changes in time for the city council to consider the amendments Tuesday night.
The recommendation was formulated last week as a result of an approval of a citizen referendum in the Nov. 6 general election.
The referendum called for an amendment to the city ordinance which prohibits snowmobile operation inside the city limits unless given special prior approval by the city council.
The referendum calls an ordinance amendment which would allow the use of snowmobiles in the city between Dec. 1 through April 1. The referendum gave the city the authority to designate the routes and times with at least allowing the use between 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.
The recommend routes will include all city rights of way and the White Lake Pathway, except for Business Route 31 (Colby and Thompson streets), Mears Avenue, Division Street, Lake Street and any closed streets. Colby, Thompson, Mears, Division and Lake streets may be crossed at intersections at right angles.
Speeds will be reasonable and proper unless otherwise posted.
Use on city “property” is still prohibited unless prior permission is obtained from the Council.
Snowmobiles will be prohibited from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. Working headlights and tail lights will be required from sunset to sunrise.
Use on “other” property, basically property not owned by the city, will require prior approval of the property owners. The school district will fall in the category. Snowmobiles may operate from Dec. 1 through April 1.
According to the recommendation, signs will be posted where snowmobiles are prohibited.
Conveyor mats will be laid on the bridges to protect the wooden decks from the snowmobile track studs.
The Muskegon County Sheriff Department will be asked to provide primary enforcement.
As part of the recommendation, the committee will review the new use of snowmobiles next spring for any possible changes and to assess any damage done to city property.
Members of the Snowmobile Committee were the city attorney, City Manager Scott Huebler, Police Chief Roger Squiers, Public Works Director Brian Armstrong, and council members James Bartholomew, Orville Smith and Tanya Cabala.
If the recommendation, or some form of it is approved Tuesday night, the city must publish the ordinance amendment in a newspaper before it can take effect. If it is published Dec. 2, the amendment could take effect by Dec. 12 in time for the anticipated snowmobile season.
Proponents of the referendum said, by allowing snowmobile use in the city, a key gap in the West Michigan snowmobile trail system will be eliminated, and the local economy will be boosted by expenditures for food, gas and lodging by snowmobilers.
Opponents have expressed concern about the noise, safety and nuisance issues of snowmobiles operating in the city, and question how much of an economic boost the city will realize from their use.