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NEWS STORIES

Lawsuit Filed Over Proposed Snowmobile Trail in Vilas CountySubmitted: 10/16/2012
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

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ST. GERMAIN - Plans for a snowmobile trail in St. Germain have some residents upset with Vilas County.

Tom and Karen Martens have filed a lawsuit to stop the county from building a snowmobile trail that would cross their right of way on Highway 155.

Normally the county can use the right of way for highway purposes. But in 1937 when that right was granted to the highway department for the Martens' land it was through an easement.

The Martens say that means they're the ones who have to give permission for a snowmobile trail to cross their land.

"This is an easement for highway purposes as long as so used. The question is, is a snowmobile trail on the easement a highway purpose? That's what this lawsuit is about. We're in no way trying to stop the snowmobile trail. All we're trying to do is stop the trail from being on our property," says Tom Martens.

The Martens say they're also concerned about safety. President-elect of the Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club, Tom Christensen, says the DOT and Vilas County have deemed it safe.

He also says a snowmobile trail is proper highway use.

"Vilas County and the Department of Transportation have both agreed that the right of way along 155 is a right of way that allows for snowmobile traffic, snowmobile trail system to be placed along the side of Highway 155," says Christensen.

The Martens and other residents have also sent a petition to St. Germain to prevent the trail from crossing private land down the road. The town hasn't made a decision about the petition yet because the ordinance isn't specific about snowmobile trails.

There should be a ruling on the lawsuit December 18th.

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