County vs. Platted vs. Private
Prior to 1932 all County roads were taken care of by each respective Township. In 1931 Public Act No. 130 was passed and was called the Township Road Relief Act. It is now referred to as the McNitt Act. This act required the Counties to set up a Road Commission for the whole County and to take over jurisdiction of 20% of the townships' roads each year, 1932 through 1936. These roads were certified with the State of Michigan and became the base of each Road Commission's network of roads. There were two types of roads that were not certified by the Road Commission during these years: Private roads and Platted roads that only existed on paper. Private roads are any roads that have ownership of the right-of-way, including driveways. There are still many platted roads in the county that have never been developed. They have been dedicated for the use of the public by some supervisor's plat but are no longer marked and in many cases are wooded over. The adjoining property owners on these roads can get them abandoned in Circuit Court or they could be improved and made into County maintained roads, but most of them just lay forgotten.
The Road Commission does not have jurisdiction over Gaylord and Vanderbilt streets, and these articles will not address them. Act 51 of 1951 established the funding of the State Road systems and also qualified Primary and Local County Roads. Primary Roads are the main "farm to market" roads in the County. Some Primary roads in Otsego County are Old 27, McCoy Road, Mancelona Road and Dickerson Road. Local roads basically serve the landowners in a township. They are often gravel roads and sometimes barely navigable trail roads. Most Primary and Local roads are maintained year round by the Road Commission. We have 186 miles of seasonal roads that are not maintained in the winter but are open for snowmobilers and skiers. These roads either do not have any houses on them or are too narrow for our trucks to plow.
The Road Commission's primary concern is to keep up the existing roads, the maintenance of which takes up the major part of our budget. The Road Commission will only take over a new section of road when we are given the right-of-way (80' width) and when it has been brought up to our specifications (paved) by someone other than the Road Commission. Construction on a county road (for example: improving a trail road to a wide, paved road) by law requires us to get 50% of the funds from an outside source. Some counties have carried this on to 100%. At this time Otsego County requires 75% of construction to be paid by others. Anyone can enter into agreement with us for construction but usually it is the townships.
We have had many people stop in who were led to believe the County would take care of their road and after the first snowfall find out that it was not a County Road or was too narrow to be plowed. If you are contemplating buying a home or building on a County Road, I would suggest that you stop in and inquire as to the status of the road going past the house.