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Residents frosted by snowmobile trail vote

The Thomson Township board of supervisors has approved a snowmobile trail alongside township roads, to be run by the Wood City Riders Snowmobile Club.

Wood City Riders, located in Cloquet, helps maintain wooded trails throughout northern Carlton County and southern St. Louis County.

The board and the club have been discussing the possibility of running a trail through the township since 2019, but ran into obstacles that made it difficult to complete the initial proposal.

The township gave Wood City Riders permission to use various rights of way along township roads in September 2020, but the snowmobile club ran into problems when property owners did not approve the use of their land for the proposed trail. In May, the cliub backed out completely from the process of creating a trail.

A new trail, approved by a 3-2 vote at the Sept. 2 town board meeting, is set to run on the rights of way of Harney Road, Church Road, and Canosia Road.

Township supervisors Jason Paulson, Tony Compo and Bill Gerard voted in favor of the trail, as Minnesota state statutes already permit snowmobiles to run in right of way areas. They didn’t feel property owners needed to be notified since sleds can already run on the trail approved. The club would just maintain the trail.

Ruth Janke and Terry Hill were opposed.

Some residents are concerned not only about the trail but about how the trail was approved by the board.

Ryan Sullivan, a resident of West Harney Road, is unhappy with the trail, saying residents who have land in its path were not properly informed about it before it was passed by the board.

“The snowmobile trail is really just half of the issue. There are plenty of mixed opinions on the trail and its place, but what is worse is that the town board did not find it necessary to communicate the fact that they were considering it in the first place,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan told the Pine Knot News that he has been reaching out to neighbors and none of them knew the board was going to be discussing the trail or approve anything about the it at its last meeting. Even the residents who have the right of way running through their property were not notified.

Sullivan plans to continue to reach out to other residents in order to “make some noise” about their feelings regarding the approval of this trail without public input.

The supervisors who did not vote in favor of the trail, Hill and Janke, said they voted no because they wanted residents involved.

The township board meets on the first and third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m.

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