NNT Postcard 20190326 Address side orange 395w281h

Going into tonight's discussion of the 8 or $9 million dollar sewer system decision, the powers that sneak provided only a 17 page packet.


Our additions, from Township Attorney Paul Burns' January 8th report to the Board: 

Also, this: a summation of 160 studies demonstrating the NET cost to communities of adding residential development:


Supervisor Chockley's power point presentation, not in the packet

NNT Postcard 20190326 Message side orange 394w281h


Two huge items were added to the packet, literally the 3-26-2019 morning of this hugely impactful board meeting.


What's in this late addition?  We've made it easy to read the items:


On the Township website: 

Apparently, the Draft 2019 Master Plan has replaced the Master Plan currently in effect.  

No matter, Northfield Township's 2012 Master Plan is viewable as a slideshow here on SlideShare.  You can download the 2012 Master Plan here.  Did you know we invested over $35,183 making that plan?

It's been slightly revised; I'll dig up the links.


Since the old Master Plan has been replaced, here's our new Municipal Service Expansion Policy, on page 35

Municipal Service Expansion Policies

The Township has made a significant investment in building the capacity, quality and reliability of the sewer systemsto serve existing areas of the Township. In 2015, the Township commissioned the Wastewater Treatment Plant(WWTP) Capacity Evaluation Report to study the capital needs of the existing sanitary collection system and identifyimprovements necessary at the wastewater treatment plant to meet expected growth. The Report recommends theconstruction of an equalization basin to store and equalize peak wastewater flows. In the interim, the Township hasincreased the sewer tap fees for businesses that were not previously identified. For future municipal service expansion,it is recommended that the Township carefully consider the following general guidelines:


1. In order to promote orderly growth within the Township, only areas adjacent to and contiguous to the currentmunicipal service boundary should be considered as the preferred area for expansion of services. The“leapfrogging” of Township areas to provide municipal services which create an island of services within theTownship should be strongly disfavored. The idea of contiguous development requires that municipal servicesexpand from one fully-developed area to the next adjacent area.


2. The Township shall implement the resulting policy of the 2015 capacity study. Any expansion shall be bound bycapital improvements needs identified in that study.


3. Where expansion of facilities is proposed the Township should follow the recent practice of passing the costs ofexpansion on to those reaping the benefits of that expansion through special assessment districts, REU charges,and other similar mechanisms.


4. As a part of this policy, the Township should adopt a formal municipal service expansion procedure. In addition tothe general policies, municipal sewer service should not be extended beyond those areas planned for mediumdensity residential.


 Sewer ManholeCover 240w175h







[Page Last Updated 4/20/2019]


Comic Relief:

The Whitechapel Fatberg, streamed live and yellowing, from the Museum of London

NPR:  'Concreteberg' The Weight Of A Blue Whale Plagues London's Sewers,  Merrit Kennedy,  4/18/2019


Our previous collection of  Northfield Township Sewer and Wastewater Treatment System Documents (1969 through 2019)


Sewer System Studies and Reports, MostlyTetra-Tech, most recent at top

(I'm still gathering and collecting)



















Sewer System Legal History, oldest first

The Northfield Township  Wastewater Treatment Plant was built in 1963-1964.  It was expanded to handle Whitmore and Horseshoe Lakes as a result of a series of lawsuits brought by the Lakeland Homeowner's Association, which represents people living downstream and downlake from the Treatment Plant's discharge.  The history is written in the documentation of the lawsuits.


1969-09-30  Green Oak and Northfield Township Sewer agreement

1972-02-25  Lakeland Northfield and Green Oak Township Judgement

1972-05-04  Lakeland Northfield and Green Oak Township Judgement

1978-09-11  Lakeland Northfield and Green Oak Township Supplemental Order

1991-03-14  Lakeland Northfield and Green Oak Township Supplemental Order

1991-03-14  Northfield and Hamburg Township Sewer service area

1991-03-14  Northfield and Hamburg Township Intergovernmental Sewer Agreement

1998-05-01  McNamee, Porter and Seeley Northfield Township Sewer System Report

2002-05-03  Lakeland Amended Consent Judgement


2014-11-06-Sewer-System-Legal-Agreements-&-Lawsuits-text - [BoT-packet-2014-11-06]   [25MB download]

2014-11-06-Sewer-System-Legal-Agreements-&-Lawsuits - [BoT-packet-2014-11-06] [unprocessed scanned images: 7MB download]


2018-12-05: Township Attorney Paul Burns'  Summary of WWTP Legal Agreements and Judgements  - [BoT-packet-2019-01-08] 

2018-12-05: Township Attorney Paul Burns'  Written Opinion of WWTP Legal Obligations - [BoT-packet-2019-01-08]



Sewer System Policy History, most recent at top


2019-03-26 Aynes: BOT Late packet addendum cover letter   [2019-03-26 Addendum p01-p01]

2019-03-25 Chockley - Wastewater Treatment powerpoint presented to 3-26-2019 Board meeting     [no attribution, Chockley assumed]

2019-03-25 Aynes Otto: email Lyon Township Comparable Sewer Costs    [2019-03-26 Addendum p43-p43]

2019-03-23 Rubel-Aynes: email Tetra Tech memo re violation section 9 MDEQ expectations to treat p2     [2019-03-26 Addendum p02-p02]

2019-03-20 Mann-Aynes: email bond questions answered     [2019-03-26 Addendum p11-p11]

2019-03-20-Aynes-memo-recommending-conventional-lying-about-tank-cost     [2019-03-26 Addendum p30-p31]

2019-03-19-Aynes-Rubel-email-cost-comparison-low-interest-loans     [2019-03-26 Addendum p22-p23]

2019-03-18-Aynes-Otto-Burns-Willis-Rubel-gabfest     [2019-03-26 Addendum p24-p28]

2019-03-18 Mann-Aynes: email re sewers financing     [2019-03-26 Addendum p12-p12]

2019-03-18 Miller-Canfield: Memo Steps to Finance     [2019-03-26 Addendum p13-p15]

2019-03-18 Miller-Canfield: Sample Resolution Declaring Intent to Issue Bonds     [2019-03-26 Addendum p16-p19]

2019-03-11-Bendzinski-Memo-Debt-Service-Calculations-and-Table     [2019-03-26 Addendum p32-p35]

2019-03-05 MDEQ MiWaters permit violations     [2019-03-26 Addendum p05-p07]

2019-02-25-Aynes-Garden-City-Water-Bill     [2019-03-26 Addendum p29-p29]

2019-02-24 Chick-Rubel: email exchange     [2019-03-26 Addendum p09-p10]

2019-02-13 Rubel-Aynes: email Tetra Tech Memo 2018 AMP Progress     [2019-03-26 Addendum p08-p08]

2018-12-05-Burns-Township-Atty-Summary-Township-Legal-Obligations-re-WWTP     [2019-03-26 Addendum p36-p42]


2016-04-21 Fink Memo: Sewer Equalization Basin      [2016-04-26-BOT packet p106] 

2016-04-21 Finks EZ Credit Equalization Basin Spreadsheet     [2016-04-26-BOT packet, p107, 1200w380h] 

2016-04-21 Finks EZ Credit Equalization Basin Spreadsheet     [2016-04-26-BOT packet, p107, 800w257h] 

2016-03-31 Bendzinski Equalization Bond Schedule

2016-03-22 Northfield Township SAD sewer service area maps upright 

2016-03-22 Northfield Township SAD sewer service area maps 

2015-02-01 SEMCOG Map of Sewer Funding Eligibility

2014-08-14 Township Permit No MI0023710 with section 9 MDEQ expectations to treat 3     [2019-03-26 Addendum p03-p04]

2009-03-01 SEMCOG Map of WWTPs and Sewers

2008-04-08 Northfield Township Notice for Public Indebtedness Ordinance Division 5 Sec 2 272     [2019-03-26 Addendum p20-p21]



Wastewater Treatment Plant Monthly Reports

(I'm still gathering and collecting)










Wastewater Treatment Plant contracts, bids, hiring, maintenance costs, etc

(I'm still gathering and collecting)





Manhole Cover: Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan:

Manhole Kurashiki Okayama905w906h


by David Gordon 3/18/19

Northfield Neighbors recently alerted sewer customers to the Board of Trustee’s $5M plan for a holding tank at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). This plant expansion could raise sewer rates $100/yr. and could also impact residents in the rural areas.

Supervisor Chockley and Trustees Jackie Otto and Janet Chick say a holding tank is needed to promote business growth, to protect the environment and to meet a legal commitment to Green Oak Township.

Their own consultants say otherwise.

  • · Our engineer says the plant has at least 200 sewer “taps” now available.
  • · Our plant superintendent says we are not polluting.
  • · The MDEQ has not cited the WWTP for polluting. No violations.
  • · Our attorney says there is no legal requirement to build now.

In reality, Chockley, Otto and Chick want to make it easier for developers as the tank would add 1,300 “taps” (rooftops) to the plant capacity.

Clerk Kathy Manley, Treasurer Lenore Zelenock and Trustee Wayne Dockett are against making our current sewer customers pay for a tank. “Let the developers pay” is their message. Trustee Tawn Beliger is still, somehow, undecided.

WHO PAYS? Adding $100/year to sewer customers is a tax by another name. Beliger says she’s against taxes. We’ll see on March 26 at the BoT meeting.


Three tanks horizontally 900w269hPhotos of holding tanks

Two tanks horizontally 900w345h

New alternatives for managing storm water


The Rest of the Story

Let’s evaluate the claims being made by Chockley, Otto and Chick.



According to TetraTech, our township engineers, the WWTP today has capacity for at least 200 new taps (commercial, industrial and/or residential). This is enough to satisfy any realistic growth for the near future and there may be even more capacity.

The WWTP was originally built in the 1960s by the State of Michigan to provide sewage treatment for W. J. Maxey Boys Training School. Maxey closed in 2015, freeing up 3.3 million gallons/year in capacity. Where did that capacity go?

Occupancy at the local manufactured home park dropped substantially after the housing market collapse in 2008.   Where did that capacity go?

Two hundred taps is a lot. It could support a mall half the size of Briarwood.


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is responsible for monitoring the WWTP. NO violations have been issued.

MDEQ NT WWTP Inspections Report 2017 01 10 900w422hMDEQ site showing that our Wastewater Treatment Plant has recieved 0 violations  

Click here to read or download MDEQ's latest full treatment plant inspection report, dated 3-14-2017

During large storms, rainwater infiltrates the WWTP system, which is unavoidable according to WWTP Superintendent Dan Willis. The plant has procedures to handle the overflow and has been meeting this occasional challenge for decades.

In the spring of 2017, for instance, the township had the largest “rain event” in 38 years, according to Willis. He said the plant handled it without polluting. Here’s a back-and-forth exchange from the April 11, 2017 BoT meeting:

Trustee Dockett - “So, we have no problem with the state?”

Superintendent Willis –      “No, no, we’re fine with them.”

Trustee Dockett -             “So, we’re not polluting?”

Superintendent Willis -       “No we’re not.”

(Jump directly to video of the WWTP conversation, on VideoNorthfield)

Dockett's exchange occurs during the Wastewater Treatment Plant report, about 45 minutes 40 seconds into the 3-hour meeting.

At the 3-12-2019 Board meeting, Dockett asked again.  Willis reconfirmed that there have been no problems with the State.



“It is not a legal question,” said Township Attorney Paul Burns this January. You can listen to the entire 53-minute “discussion” at this :Link:@2:02:40 in the video

https://livestream.com/accounts/1160710/events/8518568/videos/185571229  (This will become a LiveAgenda video very soon.)

At the Jan. 8 BoT meeting, Burns said the tank is a policy decision, not a legal one. He explained that if Green Oak Township asks for their promised 1,600 taps, they would have to pay $10M in tap fees.  Tap fees are now $6,255 each.


According to Burns, capital improvements (like a tank) are paid for by sewer “tap fees” on NEW customers; maintenance is paid by the quarterly sewer bills on EXISTING customers.   Simple.   

Chockley now wants to pay for a financial analysis to find some “creative” way to pay for the tank. How about this? When a developer shows up with an 800-home project that fits with our Master Plan, the developer pays $5M for the taps. Done.


There is no shortage of capacity; we are not polluting and we are not required by law to build the tank.


  • The tank gets built despite opposition from residents.
  • Developers buy relatively cheap farmland in the Ann Arbor, South Lyon or Dexter school districts. (all within the borders of Northfield Township.)
  • The farmland is lost forever.
  • The new subdivision residents don’t shop downtown and their kids aren’t enrolled in the Whitmore Lake school system.

Maybe instead of spending more time and money on the tank, the BoT could do some legwork, find a 21st Century fix and let the developers pay for it when and if they show up.  

Check out these sites or Google “alternative storm water management practices”.






4 toilet paper rolls 700w










Report by David Gordon

$24,500 Master Plan Rewrite

The Board of Trustees changed direction last night and voted in favor (5/2) of spending $24,500 for a review of the Master Plan (last updated in 2014).   The State of Michigan requires that Master Plans be reviewed every five year but does not dictate how extensive or expensive it must be.

The Board also heard a presentation from TetraTech, the township’s long-time engineering firm, regarding current costs and anticipated rate increases if a $6,000,000 sewer expansion is approved.

Paying for the two major sewer expansion proposals – construction of a $3M retention basin and $3M to enlarging two “trunk” sewer lines - would raise sewer rates 42% from about $84 to $120/quarter, according to the TetraTech estimates.

Trustees expressed skepticism that current sewer customers would welcome such a large rate hike since the existing system is serving them well. The proposed expansion is designed to accommodate residents not yet living here.

The TetraTech report, limited in scope, is part of a much larger and more expensive investigation into the status of the township’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. That larger report should be completed within 12-18 months and will provide the Board with some answers to questions such as: Is the township collecting enough revenue through sewer bills to pay for needed maintenance on the sewer system?

The Master Plan rewrite was opposed by Trustees Wayne Dockett and Tawn Beliger.

Dockett pointed out that the additional $24,500 brings the total to $39,000 for extra planning work besides the regular McKenna & Associates annual retainer.

The hiring of McKenna, the most expensive contractor to ever provide these services, occurred because the previous two planning firms both quit the township in 2016 during the last year of the Marilyn Engstrom Board and while Howard Fink was township manager.

For several months Supervisor Marlene Chockley has been lobbying the Board to approve the Master Plan rewrite. She said last night that she had been approached by businesses looking to build light industrial developments to the area near N. Territorial and Whitmore Lake roads. She claimed that the area isn’t zoned for it and the MP could be amended to accommodate it.

However, a quick review of the Master Plan (Page 47&48)

  • This link is on the way, folks.  I'll zoom in on the pages.  Gotta get something out of the way first.

shows that the vision for this area already allows for “a limited amount of industrial uses” and that another accepted option would be a “Planned Unit Development.”

Within the last year, both the Board of Trustees and the Planning Commission said that the Master Plan is, by-and-large, OK as it is and requires no major amendments, which made last night’s vote all the more unusual.

Treasurer Lenore Zelenock, who previously voted against the rewrite, said she reversed her position because “the work being done by both the Land Preservation Committee and the Downtown Planning Group needs to be incorporated into the Plan. And there are certain other changes proposed by our planners that should be discussed with the residents,” she added.

Chockley said the rewrite should be done to collect more input from residents.   But the $24,500 review includes only one public workshop. Each additional workshop would cost about $1,000, according to Paul Lippens of McKenna.

In other business, the Board hired a new part-time police officer, Frank Wright, and a new front desk clerk, Emily Hofsess.

At the call to the public, resident David Gordon (author of this report) criticized the Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) for destroying hundreds of trees (many of them “Heritage and Landmark” trees) as part of a so-called “safety” project along N. Territorial Road between Spencer and Gottfredson roads.

“According to the county’s traffic counts, there were 10,220,000 trips along this stretch of road from 2010 to 2015 and only one fatality. That’s 10 million-to-one odds and that seems pretty safe to me,” Gordon said.

“The Road Commission said it could not have gotten federal safety dollars to replace a failing culvert without also removing the trees for safety. But MDOT said other options available such as rumble strips or a ‘safety edge’ ”.

Chockley said she was unhappy that the WCRC failed to inform the township about the project which was applied for in August 2016 and approved in March, 2017. She said she first heard of the project this February from a resident, about 11 months after it was approved.

Chockley invited the other Trustees to contact her with their thoughts about this WCRC project and that she may draft a formal resolution regarding this issue for the next Board meeting.

Watch individual Agenda items with our exclusive LiveAgendas:

Meeting Documents:


What's behind a LiveAgenda?  by Jim Nelson. 

Below is what the VideoNorthfield edit of this meeting looks like.  I added one camera to the Township's single camera feed.  I extract the individual presentation slides and put them directly on the 720P stream as well.  The Township video gear doesn't support this so I do it in post.  For any meeting lasting more than about an hour and a half, the resulting files far exceed the 3GB posting limit on the Township's Livestream account.  I am able to post two camera edits of the meetings on the LiveStream account only for shorter meetings, like the Planning Commission.  In this case I extracted the 40 minute Tetra Tech presentation.   The versions posted on the Township Livestream account are editorial and public comment free.  The version of the Tetra Tech Cost Study posted and hosted on Youtube/Video Northfield includes at the end, Dale Brewer's public comment period lecture about fiscal responsibility.

Please don't misunderstand the term of art, Edit.  The meeting video is synced to the meeting audio, which acts as a strict timeline.  I swap between camera angles and perspectives, mostly to follow speakers but almost as often to eliminate watching the disconcerting panning, tilting, and zooming around that's necessary because there is only one main camera in the $60,000 Boardroom.

Final Cut of 3 27 2018 700pm BOT meeting 3496w1064h



by David Gordon

Sewer Tap Fees Nearly Doubled:

The Board of Trustees nearly doubled sewer tap-in fees at the Aug. 15 meeting in order to pay for expanded sewer capacity and to finance a “Growth Agenda”.

The fee was raised from roughly $3,000 to $6,000 per connection and will apply to all new hook-ups.  Tap fees are designed to pay for large and expensive sewer upgrades and expansion, according to newly hired township manager Steven Aynes. 

The Board is considering nearly $6M in sewer expansion, but to cover that cost, the township would need 1,000 new residents or businesses to pay the $6,000 fee. 

Of the $6M total sewer expense, $3M would be for a “retention basin” and $2.7M+ would cover replacing existing sewer lines with larger ones.

Aynes said the fee increases were overdue.  “You need to do something quickly.…get the ball rolling,” he said.  After the rate increase was passed, Chockley said “at least we got somewhere.”

Aynes revealed that he has spent much of his first two weeks at work researching sewer expansion.  Yet sewer expansion of this magnitude, and the growth it would support, is not what our residents want.  Both the 1996 and 2010 community-wide surveys identified “Preservation” and protecting our quality of life as the #1 Priority, not growth.

Chockley also has been suggesting that sewer expansion is needed to develop the new North Village waterfront park.  One plan being discussed is a $54M “vision” that would include a mix of businesses and condos within the park.   

However, 60% of residents polled about the new park said they just want a park….not the grandiose production being considered by the Board.

The idea that a $3M retention basin is “needed” has been discredited numerous times, most recently at the May 9th Board meeting when Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Dan Willis said “we recently had the worst rainfall in 38 years, but we handled it.”  Beliger asked  “So it was challenging, but you handled it fine?”  Willis said yes.

New Manager – A Welcome Change

Aynes, at his first meeting, presented an entirely different experience than the previous manager, Howard Fink.  Whereas Fink could be counted on to speak on each and every agenda item, at length, Aynes didn’t speak until directly asked to comment on the sewer issue.  He has said he feels his job is to support the Board’s decisions, not direct them.  Thank you, sir.


Same Old, Same Old

Trustees Dockett and Beliger objected to the cost of holding the Aug. 8 election where residents were asked to re-instate the fire and medical rescue millage.  The election cost about $5,000, according to Manley.  The millage passed easily.

Apparently, Dockett and Beliger have a problem spending $5,000 for an election, but no problem spending $100,000 for a new township manager, who they voted for despite overwhelming opposition from the community and also from the Supervisor, Clerk and Treasurer, who argued that they could do the job and save $50,000 in taxpayer dollars.

Foulest Trustee Award

Our winner this meeting – Wayne Dockett.  Click here to view just one example of his ill-mannered behavior at this meeting.  After insulting Reubel during the engineer’s presentation, he interrupts and yells over the Supervisor, who was merely thanking Reubel for being there.  (link to the moment captured in Live Video)  


Watch the Agenda Items you actually want to see later using our  

Meeting Documents, broken out individually from the gigantic Township packet

Check Disbursement Report, 8-10-2017
Revenue and Expenditure Reports 2017-07-31
Invoice General Ledger Report 2017-08-10 
Fund Balance Bar Charts 2017-07-31 
Fund Balance Reports 2017-07-31
Funds Balance Report 8-9-2017
Investment Update 2017-08-10
Donations Report 8-10-2017

Supervisor's Report, 2017-08-11
Amy Sholl letter re downtown, 8-3-2017
Bark Park Lease Agreement, 8-10-2017
Code Enforcement Report, 8-9-2017
Zoning Administrators Report 2017-07-11

Public Safety Report, July 2017 
FD Memo - Fire Truck Purchase 2017-07-11
FD Report, July, 2017
PD Memo - Hiring of Christopher Pascoe 2017-08-10
PD Memo - Temporary Interim Promotion of Sgt Smith 2017-08-10
PD Report July 2017

Proposed Regular Meeting Calendar
Tetra Tech Rate Study Proposal, 2017-08-04 
WWTP Report July 2017

2017-07-11 Northfield Township Board meeting Minutes draft
2017-07-25 Northfield Township Board 630PM Closed meeting Minutes draft
2017-07-25 Northfield Township Board meeting Minute drafts

2017-08-15-Northfield-Township-Board-of-Trustees-meeting-Packet ocr [ 7.5 MB dwnload]
2017-08-15-Northfield-Township-Board-of-Trustees-meeting-Packet  [The original download - 17 MB ]

Again, if you missed it, the