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A bumpy ride: Orion Woods residents spar over subdivision speed bumps

December 08, 2010 - Gabriel L Ouzounian

Review Staff Writer

Orion Township does not allow for the installation of speed bumps in public streets, because of the problems they pose to emergency response vehicles and road maintenance vehicles like snow plows.

And, as the residents some Orion Township residents have learned, the speed bumps can also create disharmony among neighbors.

That was the issue Monday, Dec. 6, as the Orion Township Board of Trustees discussed the speed bumps in Orion Woods subdivision and listened to different opinions from residents of the community.

Part of Orion Township Ordinance 64 contains a clause stating that it is illegal to erect obstructions in any street within the boundaries of Orion Township.

This means Orion Woods and three other communities that installed speed bumps are in violation of the law, trustees told those at the meeting.

Typically, these speed bumps have been installed by neighborhood association groups trying to slow speeders in areas subject to through-traffic.

Mike Milk, a member of the Orion Woods Condominium Association, said the speed bumps were a necessity, as before the bumps were in place it was typical to see residents of the nearby apartment complex "going anywhere from 50 to 60 mph."

"It's gotten to the point where people yell at drivers who are going too fast, and in turn those drivers will sometimes stop and get out of their cars and there have almost been fights because of it," said Milk, noting his main concern is safety of the children in the neighborhood. "The situation has become dangerous in many ways."

Other subdivision members joined Milk in his assertions, including one former school principal claiming that his mailbox has been destroyed by speeding vehicles six times. Another said in one instance, where a car driven by "younger individuals" had lost control, the length of the skid marks left by the car were measured at around 500 feet. Geoff Harris, another member of the association said when the group was discussing the installation of the speed bumps, they had done research indicating the process would have been alright with township officials.

"No one ever told me 'you cannot have them' or 'it is against the law,'" said Harris. "When Fire Chief Jeff Key said he did not like speed bumps, that does not mean, to me, that we cannot have them."

Harris then noted that he had a petition signed by 70 residents of the Orion Woods community asking for aid in their efforts to control the speed limit in their neighborhood. He added that the petition was not "some blog that anyone can make and comment on."

The final comment by Harris was a swipe at the presumed leader of the opposition to the speed bumps, and fellow resident of Orion Woods, Greg Gierak.

Gierak has been campaigning to take out the speed bumps since they were installed, utilizing a blog and a Facebook page to post his research findings for why the speed bumps were illegal.

"Being that these are the board members of my community, I think I have a reasonable expectation that they will represent me," said Gierak. "I would like to thank Fire Chief Jeff Key and the [OrionTownship] Board of Trustees for doing an excellent job."

"After looking into the many possible uses and kinds of speed bumps, Michigan has rejected them as a means to slow traffic," said Gierak, reading a quote from the Oakland County Road Commission. "Vehicles with tire suspension like school buses and fire trucks must virtually stop before the speed bump."

Throughout the debates, both sides were becoming visibly and audibly

heated, to the degree that at one point Trustee Mark Crane warned the

audience that "anyone who wants a chance to speak will have that chance but cat calling is completely inappropriate."

Even though the board decided that removal of the speed bumps was nessessary, they understood the plight of those who were upset over the through traffic.

The board gave Township Supervisor Matthew Gibb authority to negotiate a payment plan for the bumps removal and an alternative method to reduce speed in the subdivision, including a favored option to build an emergency gate at the back entrance to the subdivision.

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