ALMONT – The Almont Township Board of Trustees, under the leadership of Township Supervisor Paul Bowman, has been altering a noise ordinance since February so that most property owners in the township will no longer be able to drive Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) or even use property maintenance equipment like lawnmowers and chainsaws on their own properties.
The Tribune has obtained copies of the Almont Ordinance 63 and 63.1, the Noise Control and Public Nuisance Ordinance from before and after the changes. Bowman, who is on the record in 2014 for asking the County Road Commissioner to ban ORV use on all dirt roads in the township as supervisor at that time, wrote and proposed these changes, which have dramatically expanded the range of regulations against property owners, while nearly eliminating the exceptions that protect owners’ rights.
At the last meeting, on November 9, a further change was adopted that prohibits all use of ORVs within 50 feet of a property line with a residence. The major modifications to Ordinance 63.1 were adopted in February, which eliminated a decibel (unit to measure sound) threshold and an exception that allowed for the use of equipment for the purpose of property maintenance between 8:00AM and dusk.
The current ordinance has no exception for property maintenance unless there is an active building permit, or it is farming operations on a property zoned for agricultural use. Since there is no longer a decibel threshold, the standard to which property owners are to be held is simply whether neighbors consider it a nuisance.
As the ordinance currently reads, any neighbor who does not like the sound of a lawnmower on their neighbor’s property can cause a property owner to be fined by the police. There is no protection in the current ordinance for a property owner with a neighbor who chooses to frequently complain about noise.
The penalty described in the new ordinance is, “a civil fine of not less than $50.00, plus costs and other sanctions for each infraction. Repeat offenses of this Ordinance shall be subject to increased fines.”
This noise ordinance is at the crux of a brewing conflict between suburban and rural residents in Almont Township, a mostly rural township whose proximity to the Romeo Ford plant and Macomb County has seen significant suburban development in recent years.
The Tribune spoke with an Almont resident on condition of protecting his anonymity. This individual has been attending township meetings all year. “This new change was a result of new residents of Almont who moved from Shelby Township and do not like that people operate their ORVs on their own property,” he said.
“They want to change our lifestyle and one of the things we love about our small community,” the resident continued.
“We have been fighting this issue with the township since January,” the Almont resident said in a statement to the Tribune. “My statement to the people of Almont is this: do NOT let transplants from the city come in and influence change on one of the very things we love about our small community. And shame on our township board for allowing this to happen.”
The Tribune reached out to Bowman 72 hours prior to submission of this story for comment and he did not respond.
The next Almont Township Board of Trustees public meeting is scheduled for December 11, 2023. These meetings typically have very low citizen turnout. There is not yet any organized movement to recall Bowman or the other Trustees.
The Tribune will continue to report on this story as new developments come out. A link to the current ordinance is below.