2017-10-12 / Local News

Special assessment district for Sunset Shores considered at special meeting

$628,000 project proposed

A special meeting has been set for 11 a.m. Friday to consider a resolution that would set in motion steps for Leland Township to financially back a community sanitary sewer system for residents of Sunset Shores.

A decision was put off at the Township Board’s regular meeting held Monday evening because of the complexity of the issue, said township supervisor Susan Och.

“It’s a pretty intricate document, and we didn’t have all our ducks in a row for the meeting,” Och said.

The residents of Sunset Shores, which traverses a low-lying area on the east side of north Lake Leelanau, are pretty the township to sell bonds for the project. Some $628,000 in bonds are needed.

Property owners would need to make annual payments over 10 years to cover the cost of the bonds, Och said. The sewer treatment system would be owned by the township until bonds are paid, at which time it would be handed off to a homeowners association comprised of Sunset Shores property owners.

Homeowners would be responsible for having a working septic tank on their property and installing underground lines to move “gray” water to a collection pipe dug under Sunset Shores. It’s the same type of system used by the Leland Township municipal sewer.

Och said some property owners may need to bring their septic tanks up to standards or buy new ones.

The treatment system itself would be built on property now owned by the Leelanau Conservancy, which has agreed to sell enough land for the project, Och said. The Township Board at its June meeting agreed to front up to $5,000 to cover legal costs to get the project going. Should the board vote to proceed, costs incurred from that point forward can be rolled into bond sales. Also, engineer Scott Jozwiak has been paid for some work on the project, and “he’s done a lot of work out of his pocket,” she added.

But challenges remain for the project:

• While it appears that more than the required 50 percent of landowners within a proposed special assessment district support the project, it’s not universally accepted. A new petition would need to be signed to go forward.

“I’m told that everyone has been kept in the look and this looks like a pretty good deal to most,” Och said. Some 34 property owners would be affected.

• Rights-of-way for drilling a collection pipe under the privately owned Sunset Shores remain unsecured. The unpaved road is attached to an adjacent larger parcel between the road and North Lake Leelanau Drive.

“That has not been settled. What we’re talking about is the right to do directional drilling under a private road, so it’s the same thing you would get if you were putting in a natural gas line. We would rather not just line the attorney’s pockets and deal with the owner outright. I’ve been trying to do that, but I have not been successful so far,” Och said.

Speaking Monday evening on behalf of property owners supporting the project were Pete Taylor and Rick Meese.

In other action Monday, the Township Board:

• Learned that about 40 residents continue to stay active in the maintenance and improvement of Beechwood Cemetery. Future plans include providing running water for flower maintenance and installing a new flagpole.

• Heard concerns from a county resident interested in preserving history at cemeteries around the county about the condition of gravestones in the East Leland cemetery, where members of well-known local families including the Bardenhagens and Pertners are buried. Och said a gravestone rehabilitation clinic may be scheduled in the spring.

• Amended the present budget to reflect expenses associated with the hiring of deputy clerk Lisa Brookfield.

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