BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
The backwoods of Independence Township are more populated than they were 35 years ago, but for resident Ron Frank,
hunting still has a place in them.
“There’s a lot of deer in the area and I’m just worried if this ordinance goes through it limits gun hunting in some areas,” said Frank, mostly a bow hunter, during public comment on the Sept. 5 Independence Township Board meeting. “What’s going to stop you in the future from limiting bow hunting as well?”
Many residents commented about proposed amendments to the township’s hunting boundaries map during a nearly three-hour meeting.
The amendments are the first updates to the hunting map since 1982. Supervisor Pat Kittle said neighborhoods and school property developed since then are within the current hunting ordinance boundaries.
Independence Township Planning & Zoning Administrator/Code Enforcement Officer Brian Oppmann presented the proposed changes to the hunting boundary map.
Due to population density, Oppman said the committee quickly decided gun hunting south of I-75 shouldn’t be allowed.
A new hunting ordinance proposal removes hunting from densely populated residential areas and school zones, such as around Independence Elementary which was previously within the boundaries.
There is also a vacant 80-acre parcel owned by the school district with the intent to build a school there, so it has been left out of allowed hunting areas.
The current ordinance doesn’t allow use of handguns or center-fire rifles and neither will the proposed ordinance. Another change is bow hunting, which is currently allowed in certain areas of the township. The new ordinance will allow bow hunting township wide, though DNR regulations will still have to be followed.
Oppmann said the volunteer hunting committee was made up of three residents from the north half of the township and two from the south, along with Trustee Andrea Schroder, Trustee Jose Aliaga and Oakland County Sheriff’s Lt. Larry Perry. He saw it as a well-rounded committee.
Around 20 residents spoke to the board about their thoughts and concerns. One said he came to one of the hunting committee’s three public meetings, which were on March 9 and 30, and April 20.
A few residents were concerned about Greens Lake being off the hunting map. Residents hunt water fowl on the lake, located south of I-75, and the proposed ordinance would no longer allow that. Over 80 percent of residents on the lake signed a petition and presented it to the board to remain in the hunting map; 71 of 85 households on the lake. One Greens Lake resident, Janet Engler, spoke at the meeting in favor of the proposed map because she is against hunting on the lake.
Many citizens, such as Pam Sordyl, Joette Kunse, Suzanne Dougherty, Sally Biggs, Dave Truman, and Dawn Schaller, were opposed because they felt the ordinance didn’t do enough to control hunting.
Some were also opposed to target shooting, which is not addressed in this proposal. Oppman and the hunting committee recommend the board address it after the new ordinance is settled, because there are no ordinances regulating target ranges.
Some residents in favor of the proposal include Jamie Newton, who was on the committee, Warren Kennedy, and John Williams, the only speaker who said he attended a committee meeting, adding his wife also attended one.
One of the last speakers was Chuck Meyers, who opposed the proposal.
“If you have one citizen showing up at a committee meeting, I’m a little skeptical of how this works,” Meyers said.
The three meetings were advertised and were open to the public. Supervisor Kittle thanked everyone for the feedback and said the proposal will be reexamined.