CHASSELL, Mich. (AP) —
A circuit judge has sided with local landowners in a dispute over an abandoned stretch of railroad grade the state wants to use for a trail.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources filed suit last May against Eric Leukuma, Naomi Leukuma, Matte Kiilunen and Mary Kiilunen. The rail grade runs through property they own.
The DNR planned to use the former Marquette, Houghton and Ontonagon Railroad line as a recreational trail. In its suit, the agency asked the court to affirm the state's ownership and order the adjacent property owners to remove fences they placed along the grade.
But Houghton County Circuit Judge Garfield Hood last week rejected the DNR's claim based on an 1883 deed of conveyance and denied the agency's request for an injunction against the landowners.
The ruling means Kiilunens and Leukumas won the first battle over rights to the grade but the case isn't over, said their attorney, Caroline Bridges.
"It just hasn't been determined what it means in the overall case yet but the DNR was attempting to bring the case to an early end," Bridges told The Daily Mining Gazette of Houghton for a Tuesday story. "That could have been either by having the judge decide they owned the property, or by getting this injunction."
The DNR hasn't decided on its next move, said Jim Radabaugh, state trails coordinator.
Information from: The Daily Mining Gazette, http://www.mininggazette.com
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