By Sterling McGinn
Fireworks have been a trending subject at recent Pentland Township board meetings, and they were once again on the agenda of the September meeting.
Although the fireworks in question this time were not that of the Newberry Fireworks Association, recent use of fireworks by local residents on private property have sparked concern.
The board met for the regular monthly secession at the township hall on Tuesday, September 13 at 7 p.m.
Trustee Martin Lehto and Treasurer Jean Foley were not in attendance. There were four members of the public present.
Clerk Greg Rathje informed the board that he received several complaints regarding fireworks being used at a private residence within the township.
“I want to be clear, in the last month I had two people approach me—not the other way around—that wanted to complain about fireworks,” Rathje said. “I told them to reach out to law enforcement.”
The board received a letter that afternoon from John Allen, owner of the Newberry Campground on M-28. In the letter, Allen claims that there is an issue of non-stop fireworks going off all hours of the night at Schubach Farms. It is also stated in the letter that he had addressed concerns to the DNR and is requesting the township to adopt an ordinance for fireworks. Allen’s attorney is also exploring the option of a nuisance claim against Schubach Farms.
Rathje said he reached out to Luce County Undersheriff Eric Gravelle and spoke to the township attorney regarding the matter.
Because the township does not have an ordinance to regulate fireworks, there is nothing unlawful about private residents using legal fireworks for their personal benefit.
The Newberry News reached out to Schubach Farms for comment regarding the fireworks issue. According to Misty Schubach, owner of Schubach Farms cabin rentals, the renters of the facility had an event where fireworks were used.
“They were done by 11:00 and there is no ordinance,” Schubach said.
Township ordinances are not enforced by local law but by the township themselves. Local law enforcement can enforce the ordinances if they are asked and paid to do so, otherwise the township will have to hire an ordinance enforcement officer.
“Along with this goes the blight ordinance…that’s why we never had one because you have to have someone enforce it,” said Supervisor Janet Maki.
After a lengthy discussion, the board decided to revisit the subject at the next meeting.
In other business, Rathje updated the board on the ongoing litigation with the Village of Newberry.
“The two sides agreed, and the court imposed the order that the deadline would be June 30 to present your preliminary list of witnesses,” explained Rathje. “We did that. It’s September 13 and we are still waiting for the preliminary list from the village.”
Rathje said it’s possible the village’s delay is a “deliberate tactic to somehow make it harder when we get to trial.”
Rathje said that the next hearing with the judge will be the third week in January.
Listen to the Pentland Township monthly meeting for September 2022: