Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners

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Beth Gohs

Staff Writer

The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners met April 8 to discuss the Little Traverse Conservancy and Lake Louise Land conservation easement among other topics.

A private citizen also addressed the board with concerns over the behavior of the Charlevoix County Prosecutor after allegedly being personally and publicly attacked on the radio in recent months.

Land Easement

The Lake Louise Christian Community cut a deal with the Little Traverse Conservancy and DNR for a conservation easement on 750 acres of unused land in Hudson Township.

After years of applying for a grant, the DNR has received grant money through the Forest Legacy Program.

“We’ve been working on this project for quite some time with the Lake Louise Christian Community and Little Traverse Conservancy,” said Kerry Wieber, DNR Forest Land Administrator. “It involves 750 acres that is owned by the Lake Louise Christian Community and we are working on the purchase of conservation easement on 750 acres that is on the west end of Lake Louise…. This project is funded through the Forest Legacy Program that is administered through the U.S. Forest Service.”

The land will still be owned privately by the Lake Louise Christian Community but they will receive just under one million dollars for the use of the land. This will allow public access, the timber industry will be able to use the trees.

“We are anticipating that the project will go before the DNR director … at the main commission meeting on May 7,” said Wieber. “Following that, if he approves, what that conservation easement does is it will protect the property. It will ensure public access on the property including mushroom hunting.”

Commissioners asked who would pay taxes and they were told the Christian Community would still pay taxes, and that they would still privately own the property, but are allowing the DNR to preserve and use the land.

One commissioner asked why the Christian Community would get paid for the use of the land while accepting money from timber that’s taken out.

“(The money) comes from a land and water conservation. It comes from off-shore drilling around the country,” Wieber said. “That’s where the funds are coming from, and it’s under a million dollars that’s been offered. It’s based on an appraisal—there is a very strict appraisal process that has to be met to establish the value of the conservation easement.”

The board made a motion to support the program. Commissioners voted 4-1 with Chris Christensen as the lone “no” vote because he said he wasn’t presented with enough information to make a concrete decision.

Public comment

Gregory Karam, a private citizen from Antrim County, spoke during the public comments section, unrelated to agenda items. He complained to the board about Charlevoix County Prosecutor Allen Telgenhof having called into a radio program and allegedly mentioned Karam by name.

“I have issues with your county prosecutor, especially since he’s been very combative towards private citizens such as myself,” said Karam. “He’s gone on the radio, named me by name, which I think is wrong, and I think is a poor reflection of your community.”

Karam made several claims about Telgenhof and asked the board what it intended to do about his behavior.

The board did not respond.

Board Comments

Charlevoix County Coordinator and Human Resources Director Kevin Shepard said he attended the Michigan Association of Counties conference and reported that Proposal 1 was a major topic there. Commissioner George T. Lasater (R-District 1) said he has not seen a lot of support for Proposal 1.

County Board Chair Joel Evans (R-District 4) discussed the signage for smoking on beaches, and that he is in favor of it and wanted to clarify he does not want smoking on beaches, as apparently has been misconstrued by some in the community.