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.

 

Meeting Documents: