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Judge sides with landowners in trail dispute
1/9/2007, 6:41 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

CHASSELL, Mich. (AP) — A circuit judge has sided with local landowners in a dispute over an abandoned stretch of railroad grade the state wants to use for a trail.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources filed suit last May against Eric Leukuma, Naomi Leukuma, Matte Kiilunen and Mary Kiilunen. The rail grade runs through property they own.

The DNR planned to use the former Marquette, Houghton and Ontonagon Railroad line as a recreational trail. In its suit, the agency asked the court to affirm the state's ownership and order the adjacent property owners to remove fences they placed along the grade.

But Houghton County Circuit Judge Garfield Hood last week rejected the DNR's claim based on an 1883 deed of conveyance and denied the agency's request for an injunction against the landowners.

The ruling means Kiilunens and Leukumas won the first battle over rights to the grade but the case isn't over, said their attorney, Caroline Bridges.

"It just hasn't been determined what it means in the overall case yet but the DNR was attempting to bring the case to an early end," Bridges told The Daily Mining Gazette of Houghton for a Tuesday story. "That could have been either by having the judge decide they owned the property, or by getting this injunction."

The DNR hasn't decided on its next move, said Jim Radabaugh, state trails coordinator.

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There was a rails to trails thing arround my house a few years ago. They were sucessful in getting the trail in on the old railroad grade. The people who opposed it had the old railroad deeds to the proprety and it said that the parcel of land that was taken from the landowners for the railroad would only be used for railroad and if it was ever taken out of service it would be returned to the current land owner of the parcel. I am not sure how they got the trail in with wording like that but they did. This was only a bike trail I can see why people would not want sled traffic and sutch through there back yards at all hours of the night with loud pipes and such. I am a snowmobiler but I feel for people who have these issues.

Duane
 

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The problem that we sledders have is these folks think were low-life a**holes. Our reputation as good folks is ruined by the yahoos that ride off trail and thru yards and that insist on ridiculously loud exhaust. I've always contended that what did these people do when the trains ran thru there, but let's face it, we get a bad rap from the actions of a few and that's why these people and others like them don't want us riding thru their neighborhoods, etc.
 

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I can't blame the land owners if the RR grade is close to their house, Maybe the state should offer a tax break as an incentive. If its a major trail and I was land owner I would take advantage and set up a hotdog stand like the guy in Seney.
 
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