It will be up to Orchard Lake voters to decide during the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election whether the city should vacate a portion of city property on Willow Lane.
The property is located on the west shore of Orchard Lake on Willow Lane, off of Old Orchard Trail near Birchway, and juts out where Willow Lane dead-ends.
According to the Orchard Lake City Charter, before the City Council disburses, vacates or abolishes any city property, such action must go before the public for approval.
The ballot language speaks only to whether the voters favor a sale of city property. There is no mention of price or to whom it must be sold.
“We were asked to vacate land to build a house — it interferes with building on the property,” said Mayor Bruce McIntyre.
The official ballot language reads as follows:
“Shall the City of Orchard Lake Village vacate, discontinue and abolish 40 feet of roadway located at the end of Willow Lane, formerly known as Troy Street, in the City of Orchard Lake Village, and then sell the vacated portion of the road?”
“Essentially if the electorate votes yes, it gives us the authority, but it doesn’t mean it will be sold. We just can’t sell the property without the voters’ approval to do it,” McIntyre said.
The parcel was initially platted nearly 50 years ago as part of the Cuthbertson Resort subdivision.
Now the road ending is a grassy, non-improved trail that projects into a 1.56-acre parcel currently for sale at 44890 Birchway.
No actual street is visible, but because of the way the lots were laid out originally in the area, these 800 square feet intrude sideways into a privately-owned piece of lakefront land.
The current owner and petitioner apparently has an offer, but without the Willow Lane property, the land sale may not move forward given that it is a critical piece of land located at a potential building site. The parcel creates a larger building area without the need for variances, and provides the means to install utilities and/or driveways.
“There’s been a lot of inquiries in the past on the property,” said Director of City Services Gerry McCallum. “Obviously it’s to the benefit of those people who purchase the lot to have this parcel included.”
An appraisal was performed and pegged the value of the petitioner’s overall property at $750,000, with the encumbrance of the Willow Lane portion valued at 10 percent, or $75,000. The owner of the adjacent property is in the midst of having a second appraisal conducted.
“We’re in a quandary. The voters’ approval would give us the right to vacate it, but we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s dependent on other matters like the second appraisal,” McIntyre said.