“We Can’t Afford It”

by ANDREW NEAL
@NealSchmeal

In what could be called the other sewer story, Shelby Township residents in a special assessment district along sections of Schoenherr, 25, and 26 Mile Road are continuing to speak out against a proposed sewer construction project. Half a dozen homeowners from the district showed up at Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting to voice concerns.

Rough cost estimates put the project at a little over $13 million, which when divided by the 913 acres in the special assessment district, comes out to over $14,000 per acre.

Shelby Township Public Works Director Dave Miller explained the five-step process in motion for this proposal. “Resolution #1 would establish the district. Resolution #2 would direct the engineer to establish the plans and a roll. At the last Board meeting, Resolution #3 was approved, and what that does, it directs the Township Supervisor/Assessor to establish the roll itself. And that will determine how much each property will be assessed or could be assessed. Resolution #4 establishes a date for a public hearing on cost. At that time, each individual property owner has an opportunity to express their concerns, their objections to the project. And resolution #5 will actually take and assess the roll. It will establish and put the roll on as a lien against the properties.”

“The part that concerns me is how substantial the cost is,” one man said. “There’s no way that this isn’t going to be a major hardship to 40 or 50 of those people.”

Another resident suggested spreading more of the cost “to the person involved who has the promise of a large sum of money,” referring to a developer who owns a large portion of land in the district and is one of the main advocates for the project. “Why does he get the opportunity, because he has money up front, to build off our back, where we have to put the money up front to get his sewer and water put in?”

“I think it’s really unfair that they are going to be able to put four houses on an acre,” another person said of the developers, “and what are they going to pay for that sewer?”

Other residents echoed similar anxieties over cost and traffic.

Supervisor Stathakis said at the meeting, “We’re looking at a lot of things right now. It’s more of a complicated deal than what I first thought it was and I think the last meeting brought a lot to my eyes.”

While residents from the district have been vocally opposed to this measure, they have maintained a level of civility that is too often lacking from other frequent public commenters – proof that accountability does not have to be a blood sport. In between witch hunters and those who think freedom of speech allows them the right to scream obscenities at Board members, residents in the special assessment district have handled themselves with dignity during this worrisome time.

“With all the input we got from our last meeting, there’s definitely a need for them to figure out another way. What that other way is, I don’t know,” the Supervisor said. “People I think have that opportunity now more than ever to come to be heard and also to find out how we can resolve this. I hope there’s a way we can do it. We’ll see, I don’t know. I can’t sit here and tell you which way it’ll go because we have to first find out if there’s another solution and if there is, we have to vote for it up or down.”

Residents will have a more formal chance to voice their dissent at a future Public Hearing on Cost, once the township pins down precise costs and the Assessor determines how best to establish the roll.

What do you think? Send a letter to Andrew@gazettemediagroup.com to add your voice to the story.

Read a related article from Jan. 21, Shelby Residents Uneasy Over Five-Figure Bill for Sewer System.