Emerick Road Park is at the corner of South River Road and Emerick Street, near the Harrison Park plat the township is looking to get rid of.

Emerick Road Park is at the corner of South River Road and Emerick Street, near the Harrison Park plat the township is looking to get rid of.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Harrison Township vacating unused land

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published April 17, 2023


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Old, flat, unused and expensive: so says the Harrison Township Board of Trustees about a strip of land the township owns.

At the March 27 board meeting, trustees voted to hire the services of attorney Robert Huth to help work through the process of abandoning the Harrison Park Landing, a stretch of land between South River Road and Riverside Bay Court and parallel to the northern end of Emerick Road Park.

Township Supervisor Ken Verkest said the strip was given to the township when the Harrison Park neighborhood was built.

“When land was platted so it could be resold, it was common back at that time to provide access to the river because there was this notion that there was this universal need for access to water,” Verkest said. “Who would want a piece of land if they couldn’t access the river?”

Given the need to use the river for essential transportation as well as recreational water use, strips of land about 100-feet wide and 300-400 feet deep were set up along the Clinton River when neighborhoods were built. Some of these landings house utility access points or serve other municipal functions, but the Harrison Park Landing is little more than a money pit according to Verkest.

“We’re paying over $2,000 a year to mow the lawn and there’s some trees on the one lot we’ve had to pay before to trim or take branches down,” Verkest said. “And we also have a couple of different neighbors in that neighborhood that use it for their own storage area — which is really a violation, so now you’re into enforcing things. ... It’s just not a reasonable piece of property to hang on to.”

Seeking to divest the land and have it declared sellable residential property — and claiming turning it into parkland would be a privacy concern for neighboring residents due to a lack of space between homes — the Board of Trustees hired Huth to work through the legal process.

According to Huth, the first part of this process is notifying residents in the area that an amendment to the plat is being considered and allowing them an opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter. Following this after an amount of time, the township will bring a lawsuit to circuit court in order to start the judicial steps of the process.

This step can lead to some confusion for neighbors who might not understand the point of the township filing a lawsuit about the affected plat.

“People think of a lawsuit as somebody asking for money, but this is different,” Huth said. “The township is not asking for money; the township is just asking to change a designation of property.”

Huth says the process takes about six months to complete and will require at least two more actions by the board, which he expects to occur within the next 30 days. If everything goes according to the township’s plans, the land will be reclassified as residential and become available to purchase from the township.

For more information, call the township supervisor’s office at (586) 466-1445.