Allegan County News & Union Enterprise News

City of Otsego updates speed limits

The speed limit throughout Eley Acres in the City of Otsego has been returned to 25 miles per hour, much to the delight of residents who live in the area. (Photo by Jason Wesseldyk)

By Aaron Mitchell
Otsego City Manager

Adhering to the Michigan State Law (MCL 257.627), the City of Otsego updated speed limits city-wide. This included the handling of the industrial and business districts in 2022, and in 2023 residential streets were required to be updated as well.
There was a significant revision to the law in 2017 which intended to standardize speed limits across the entire state. The intent of this law was uniformity, so that whether individuals are driving through the City of Otsego or a township in the UP, they will be able to understand and predict what the speed limit is.
The way that this was implemented was through the number of contact points within a segment of road. The more contact points, the slower the speed limit.
If it sounds complicated already, it gets worse.
Municipalities had the option to accept that established speed limit, which is classified as the “statutory” speed limit. Or, if officials from a municipality felt that the statutory speed limit was too high, they could conduct a speed study.
The speed study tracked the speeds of 100 cars or the number of cars within one hour, whichever occurs quicker. Then, the 85th percentile of that study is taken and rounded to the nearest 5 mph.
Those speeds are classified as the “modified” speed limit. These speed limits require a Traffic Control Order (TCO) to be approved by the City Commission and “boom, they are now the new speed limit!”
The City of Otsego conducted many speed studies hoping to lower the surprisingly high speed limits. We found the modified speed limits were able to bring the statutory speeds down some, but not as much as we hoped.
So, we begrudgingly had to raise many speed limits recently. I am sorry about that.
I am certain if you have driven through town recently, you have noticed the change in signs. The biggest place this was obvious was Eley Acres.
Eley Acres is a significant residential neighborhood in the southeast corner of the City. The City developed the neighborhood over multiple decades.
Decisions regarding the development of Eley Acres were made intentionally to create a quiet and aesthetically pleasing exclusively residential neighborhood. The plan worked. Driving through Eley Acres you will find many walkers/bikers and kids playing on the wide winding streets.
The idea of raising speed limits caught many off guard, with the notion deemed unacceptable. Many of the homeowners came to City Hall asking for this to be reconsidered.
But unfortunately, due to the way the law was written, there was little to nothing that we could do about it. We reviewed the large law and sought opportunities to help make the neighborhood feel safe while still complying with the law.
During this time, we reviewed a series of definitions within the law that included a “Residential Subdivision”.
Residential Subdivisions are allowed to remain at 25 mph. These are exclusively residential parts of town that have no thoroughfares through them. Most importantly, they only have a limited number of entrances and exits.
That sounds a lot like Eley Acres.
This was considered previously when we approached the speed limit issue. However, my initial understanding of these districts required them to have only 1 entrance/exit, similar to many traditional subdivisions you find out in the township.
But after we were informed by a Michigan State Police specialist of the correct definition of a Residential Subdivision, it was a no-brainer. We can take the speed limits back down to 25 for Eley Acres and still follow the law.
This should make everyone happy going forward. (I rarely get to do that.)
So that means all streets south of Lawrence Dr. will go back down to 25 mph. This will include Eley St., Goodsell St., Barton St., Windigo Ln, Comstock Ct., Bardeen Ct. and Ruby St.
I am sorry for the confusion and the initial misinterpretation of the definitions.
Now, you may live in another part of town and look at a speed limit sign out your front window that you feel is too high and feel should come down to 25 as well. I do not have good news for you.
The only affected area that we can classify as a Residential Subdivision is Eley Acres. Everywhere else throughout the City has thoroughfares that are used by others to navigate different areas of the City.
Often, this will include truck traffic and, unfortunately, it is naturally higher than 25 mph.
Another intent with the speed limit law is to allow drivers the ability to drive closer to the natural speed of a road. I do not appreciate that aspect of the law.
However, it at least makes sense as to why they made these changes years back. And the other streets within Otsego have a natural speed that is higher than we are used to.
Our police are aware of the changes and will continue to monitor speed to make sure we can keep the City as safe as possible.
If you have any questions related to speed limits or anything else feel free to email me at or give me a call at (269) 694-6146.

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