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1998 Meeting Minutes
JANUARY 6, 1998
The regular meeting of the WILLIAMSTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF TRUSTEES was called to order by Supervisor Obst on Tuesday, January 6, 1998 at 7:36 PM. The Clerk was asked to record who was present and if a quorum was present. Clerk Graham stated a quorum was present and recorded the following: Supervisor Obst, Clerk Graham, Treasurer Nilsson, Trustee Wiegandt, Trustee Zaban and Building Inspector Aven.
The agenda was read over with the following additions: Budget review; request from Ingham County Saddlemates 4-H club to use the hall; request from Manchester Plastics to use the hall;. sanitary sewer district #2 - compilation of monies paid; Fire Board minutes from 12-11-97; and the January newsletter deadlines.
Fire Board Report - Darrell Brown
The Fire Board agreed to reinvest the CD that came due into another 12 month CD at the best available rate. They have received bids for the generators that were up for sale. The Board has agreed to accept a bid of $1000 for the main generator. They have also informed the interested party that there is another generator available if they are interested. The Board has informed their architect firm that things were to be put on hold due to the property acquisition situation. The person that purchased the Beech property will not use it for a couple of years and may be able to work something out where the Fire Board could use the property in the mean time. It is still hard for the Fire Board to understand why the members representing the City had not conversed with the City Council about the proposed property purchase. The Fire Chief and Board still believe the current location is the best location for the Fire Department to serve the community. There are concerns among members of the Fire Board that the Library seems to be of greater concern to the City than the fire department. The Fire Board had to give up the $1000 deposit because of what happened with the attempted purchase of the property. The Fire Chief believes the Fire Board should hire an attorney unrelated to any of the municipalities around. Mr. Lounsbury purchased the property the fire board was interested in purchasing. Treasurer Nilsson asked what the general feeling of the Fire Board was in regards to combining with the Library. The Fire Board does not believe they are compatible entities and does not want to risk having a bonding issue defeated because of the Library being included. The Fire Board questioned why the City doesn't put the Library in the US Plastics building where they are already moving the Police Department and DPW? There is certainly no more room to add the Library at the current Fire Department location. Mr. Harold Powell raised some fundraising issues in combining the Fire Board and the Library. The two entities serve the community in different ways. Half of Wheatfield and part of Williamstown are in school districts other than Williamston. People tend to use the libraries associated with the school district that they belong to. That could drastically hurt a millage issue if they try to combine with the fire department, especially since there is already a new 1 mill millage rate at the county level for the library district. The Fire Board serves three different municipalities and at least 5 different school districts. This is not quite the same situation as Delhi Charter Township, where the Library, Town Hall, Police and Fire Departments are all located in the same new facility.
Attorney's Report - Steve Schultz
Brief Delivered On The Foote Pond Issue. The Township is in a position to prevent the drilling of any wells until site plan approval. Flooding would be private cause of action. The property owner would have to file a trespassing suit. The Township could not be involved. Blight and nuisance ordinances do not apply.
Sidewalk Ordinance - Can the Township, through the ordinance, require the property owners to accept the responsibility and the liability to accidents on the sidewalk due to the sidewalk not being maintained properly? The Township does have the ability to do this. It is a policy issue for the Township to decide whether or not they want to do this and to what extent they may want to do this. This does not mean the Township could not be sued. It means the property owner would also be sued. In most cases the plaintive is looking for their damages, and they don't really care where it comes from. Typically our insurance carrier and the property owner's insurance carrier would be sued. It is up to the Board to decide how they want to distribute the risk and responsibility.
Annexation And Ongoing Litigation With The City. There was a public hearing at the Boundary Commission on December 11th. The 30 day materials are due Monday, January 12th. Attorney Schultz will put together a letter to address the water issue and the scurrilous attack of the City's Engineer. The Engineer himself was not happy with how his comments were taken out of context. The Township does not want the record left with some of those erroneous statements left unchallenged. Attorney Schultz met with Supervisor Obst and Trustee Wiegandt with respect to the proposal received from the City to try to resolve the sewer litigation. The Township is still working on its response.
MTA Convention - The law firm will have a dinner for clients on Tuesday, January 20th. Wednesday and Thursday Attorney Schultz and a couple other attorneys from the firm will be speaking at some of the workshops.
Treasurer Nilsson had a question about the Sidewalk Ordinance mentioning a civil infraction vs. criminal misdemeanor. The Township can make it a civil infraction to fail to maintain the sidewalk in front of your property. Also, special assessment districts can be used to fund sidewalks and their maintenance, but private property owners can challenge districts set up by the Board.
Supervisor Obst is concerned about high attorney fees. He realizes the current situations with the City of Williamston have necessitated an increase in the time required of the attorney in the past year. However, he would like to improve communication between the Township office and the Attorney’s office to have estimates on services requested ahead of time.
A neighbor in the Foote situation (if flooded) would have to file a civil lawsuit for trespass. This would be to stop the trespass and to be reimbursed for damages. This is a private dispute between two people and the Township's ordinances would not apply, since it is not a "public" problem. The Township can require a lot in terms of site plan review to help prevent the problem from occurring in the first place, but once the problem occurs it is a private dispute. The Township can prevent drilling of the wells until a site plan has been approved.
Building Permit Activities - Walt Aven
There were 27 building permits issued for new homes and 2 demolitions, for a net gain of 25 new homes in the Township in 1997. In 1996 there were 51 building permits issued for new homes in the Township.
Planning Commission - Mickey Martin
Proposed Changes To Zoning Ordinance Dealing With The Zoning Board Of Appeals (ZBA).
Instead of all five criteria having to be met, the proposed change would require that there be unique circumstances and the ZBA will consider the remaining 4 criteria in making their determination. The request must be unique to the property and the general area. This will give the ZBA a little more flexibility to make their determinations on a one on one basis. Self created circumstances will be looked at a little more in depth. The Planning Commission is looking for the Board to approve the changes or send them back to the Planning Commission for further modifications. Trustee Wiegandt made a motion to approve the proposed amendments. Supported by Clerk Graham. Roll Call vote:
Ayes: Treasurer Nilsson, Trustee Zaban, Trustee Wiegandt, Clerk Graham, Supervisor Obst
Lot Splits - Fee Schedule
Because of the new State Land Division Act it is possible to obtain up to 16 splits very quickly without platting. Currently the Township charges $75 for the application and then $50 for each resulting parcel. The Planning Commission would like to retain this fee for the first 4 splits. When there are 5 or more resulting parcels involved in a split the Planning Commission would like to set up an escrow account under the same guidelines as are currently in place for the platting of subdivisions, so that the lot split request can be sent to the Township’s planning consultants and any other organizations deemed necessary for a review without cost to the Township. The initial amount put into escrow is $1500. When this is used up, the account must be replenished in $500 increments before further action would be taken on the part of the Township. These larger lot splits are starting to come in. Planner Martin received one today with 5 splits, and is expecting at least 2 more in the near future, one with 9 and the other with 16 splits. Some of them are quite complicated. The money left in the escrow account at the end of the process would be returned to the applicant. Treasurer Nilsson moved that the Board approve revising the fee schedule for lot splits to $75 plus $50 for each resulting parcel up to 4. Any splits that have 5 or more resulting parcels would be put into an escrow account of $1500 replenished at $500 increments per current policy when necessary with fees assessed as according to the current policy. Seconded by Trustee Zaban. Motion passed unanimously. Effective immediately.
Foote Property - Supervisor Obst wrote a letter informing Mr. Foote that he must stop and desist all work. Mr. Foote asked how he could do the hydro test if he doesn't drill the well? Planning Chair Martin responded that Mr. Foote needed to provide a work study plan for the hydro test. This plan would have to show how they planned on conducting the test and explain why the well would be necessary to perform the test. The Township received a reply last Friday from Mr. Foote’s engineers that was inadequate. The Township will send recommendations from Planning Commissioner Hayes to RC and Associates to give them a spelled out version of the phone conversations and the first letter. At this point RC is saying that the study requested is cost prohibitive and they are not going to do it. The Township is still requiring the work study plan before they will allow the drilling of the well. Commissioner Hayes suggested sending the study to STS for review, since Commissioner Hayes himself is not personally bonded to represent the Township as an engineer.
The stop work order stands. The letter received from RC associates was not sufficient to be considered a work study plan. Planning Chair Martin’s response will emphasize that the stop work order will not be removed except by action of the Township Board at such time as the conditions for the study have been met.
The current excavation at the site has the proposed pond built up like a dike. Water will be held above the original grade. An engineering review will be required to determine the stability of the pond. Mr. Foote could be held liable in civil litigation should water seep out the sides and flood the neighbors. Per Building Inspector Aven, Mr. Foote needs to have a review of how well the walls are constructed and what they are constructed of. He would also be required to pull a building permit should he receive site plan approval. The building permit requires an engineered plan by a certified engineer who is bonded and would be liable for the integrity of the proposed pond.
Building Inspector Aven also pointed out that the work study plan will have to explain what Mr. Foote is going to do with the water he pumps for the draw down test. He will not be allowed to put the water from the draw down test into the pond. Mr. Foote needs an engineered drawing that shows the slopes, the perk test, etc. that show the pond will hold the anticipated water. He will have a difficult time changing things if required after the pond is filled.
The letter from Planning Chair Martin to Mr. Foote’s consultants is going to reinforce the issue that there is a stop work order in effect and that construction plans drawn up by an engineer are required for site plan approval, and if approved, a grading permit.
Community Pool - Planning Chair Martin met with Al Gooch who was hired by the school district to do an assessment of pool costs, possible programs, management, personnel, etc. Mr. Gooch has run community pools for the last 25 years in the Midland area. The scheduled opening date for the pool is May 1998. The pool is 75’ by 42’, and handicapped accessible. There is also a 12 person hot tub connected to the pool. It would be possible to have 4 different functions occurring simultaneously at the pool. The Township would like a good accounting of costs. Mr. Gooch indicated that it should be fairly easy to track costs. Chemicals and personnel would be fixed costs. Utilities would have to be prorated since they share meters with the rest of the high school. Mr. Gooch is looking at ways to inform the Townships of their usage. He will propose some sort of a sign in. He is looking at a card with a bar code on it. People could then buy a membership, or get a day card. It would then be easy to track who used the pool when and for what. Should easily be able to generate the usage reports that the Township would be looking for. Mr. Gooch asked how the Township would want to pay their allotment - one lump sum or monthly billing. One lump sum would be preferable by the Clerk and Treasurer who cut the checks. His goal has been for user fees to pay most of the funds. The Midland pool is currently 67% user fees, 22% United Way supplements, 11% foundation and corporate funding. Mr. Gooch is not in favor of multiple rates. He would like one rate across the board regardless of where you live. He is going to every group who would likely use the pool to see what they want to have. The Township will send him a copy of the agreement we set up with the school for funding.
The Park - Parks And Rec. Plan And Site Plan Time Table
January 13, 1998 1:00 PM Planning Commission to walk Township park land with Lori Leland-Kirk of McKenna Associates to plan goals.
January 13 7:00 PM Planning Commission workshop to review afternoon session, discuss proposals for park, and sketch preliminary site plan. Please review proposed plan models and come to meeting with recommendations.
January 16 Draft plan submitted to Township and MDNR by McKenna Associates.
January 20 8:00 PM Regular Planning Commission meeting. Draft plans to be reviewed.
January 27 8:00 PM Special Planning Commission meeting. Public hearing on park plan. Recommendations prepared for Township Board.
February 3 7:30 PM Township Board meeting. Review and adoption of plan, if possible (If needed, a special meeting could be scheduled.).
March 1 Adopted plan submitted to MDNR by March 1, 1998.
Clerk Graham moved to adopt the time table as presented for the parks and recreation plan and call for the public hearing as designated on January 27th at 8:00 PM. Supported by Trustee Wiegandt. Motion passed unanimously.
Advisory Board - Mickey Martin
No December meeting. Class from MSU came out December 11 to present their plans for the park. Advisory Council meeting this month is January 19th. Will be talking to the library people that evening - Mr. Noonan and Mr. DeForest. Meeting at 7:30PM.
Ingham County Road Commission - Governors Proposal Of Jurisdictional Transfer Of Various County Roads. - Joe Pulver, Ingham County Road Commission
Mr. Pulver is addressing all 16 townships in the County to let them know the changes that MDOT and the Governor would like to see. The following is the outline of his presentation:
·Loss of Local Road Revenue - The $2 million of primary road revenue transferred each year to local roads will not be available.
·Loss of Federal Revenue for Primary Road Improvements - MDOT’s goal in the takeover of Ingham County primary roads is to get control of all Federal revenue available and use it on projects throughout the State. Federal money that has been available may not be used to fund projects needed in Ingham County.
·Need to Increase Local Taxes and/or Special Assessments - With MDOT controlling all Federal revenue and the State revenue generated by these primary roads, the only source of revenue for improvements on the roads remaining under road commission jurisdiction will be from local taxes and/or special assessments. The revenue we receive from the remaining roads may not cover all maintenance costs.
·MDOT Will Not Provide Better Service - For roads taken over by MDOT, townships and residents will lose their local contact. With 500 less MDOT employees, the State will not be able to respond in a timely manner. When comparing the condition of State roads to Ingham County roads, you will find most roads maintained by the Ingham County Road Commission to be in better condition.
·It Will Cost More to Maintain Roads Taken Over by MDOT - MDOT plans to contract the maintenance for roads they take over. Private contractor costs will be much higher than those charged by public agencies and MDOT will need to create another level of costly bureaucracy to administer these maintenance projects.
·Jobs Could Be Lost to County Residents - If MDOT does contract the maintenance of the roads they takeover, jobs could be lost to contractor employees from outside Ingham County.
The Board agreed to review the proposed resolution from the County Road Commission along with the proposed resolution from the MTA and adopt a resolution favoring the County at the next meeting.
Assessors Report - Norm Obst
The Assessor is requesting that the Township adopt the federal poverty income standards. Moved by Clerk Graham and supported by Trustee Wiegandt to adopt the following federal poverty income standards as of 12-31-97 for use in setting poverty exemption guidelines for 1998 assessments. Motion passed unanimously.
# Of Persons Residing Poverty
In Homestead Threshold
1 person (if age not considered) $ 7,995
1 person under 65 years $ 8,163
1 person 65 years and over $ 7,525
2 persons (if age not considered) $10,233
2 persons with householder being under 65 years $10,564
2 persons with householder being 65 years and over $ 9,491
3 persons $12,516
4 persons $16,036
5 persons $18,952
6 persons $21,389
7 persons $24,268
8 persons $27,091
9 persons $31,971
(The required asset level test of PA 390 of 1994 associated with these poverty guidelines is to be determined after further study on the part of the Board.)
Russell Aker - Mickey Martin.
Mr. Aker refused the certified letter sent to him by the Township. The letter stated that Mr. Aker had ten days to come up with a plan or clean up the site. Attorney Schultz stated that the Township had a couple more options to attempt to notify Mr. Aker: 1)Fax the letter to him; 2) mail it in a plain envelope with no return address; or 3) send the constable out to hand deliver it.
North Williamston Road - Change Of Ownership. The new owner will receive a letter informing him of Township requirements regarding his parcel. This is the same type of dumping situation as Mr. Aker’s.
Summer School Tax Collection - The Township has not heard back from Williamston Schools yet. The Board has also received requests from Perry and Ingham Intermediate. The Board agreed to wait until the February meeting to hear from Williamston Schools before responding to Perry and Ingham Intermediate.
Horizon Cablevision - refinancing letter of Dec 5, 1997. Response drafted by Steve Zaban and Norm Obst complaining about the 15% increase in cable rates in the past 12 months when the rate of inflation is only 1.8%. The letter will be forwarded to the cable commission for their input before being forwarded to the Horizon Cablevision Company.
Ingham County Drain Commission
The Board has received a Board of Determination Notice of the creation of the Jeffries, Hepfer Branch Drain per section 280.72 of Public Act 40 of 1956 as amended. The Township has also received notice of a hearing on the Shoeman Barry Road Drain - McKeon Branch 1 and 2. The hearing will be held at the Township hall on January 14th at 5:15 PM.
Proposed Zoning Ordinance Revision To Require Fire Hydrants - Norm Obst.
Supervisor Obst is asking the Planning Commission to investigate requiring irrigation wells to provide fire hydrants to subdivisions of a certain size. Bruce Gruner of the Ingham County Health Department has informed Supervisor Obst that this type of well, which would not necessarily pump potable water, would be allowed for fire hydrants. The Fire Department requires that the wells provide at least 40 lbs of pressure at the hydrants. Supervisor Obst is making this proposal based partly on discussions held at the Boundary Commission Meeting. The Boundary Commission may believe having fire hydrants is a superior method of fire protection to other methods. Trustee Wiegandt, a volunteer fire fighter in Williamston disagreed. He believes the current tanker system is just as safe and efficient as hydrants would be. Planning Commissioner Brian Jennings was concerned about the seeming conflict of the Township not wanting to allow community septic systems, but still wanting to promote community water for the hydrants. If the hydrants were put in place it would be the home owners associations that would be responsible for the cost and maintenance of the hydrants. Treasurer Nilsson thinks the proposal is a little reactionary. Attorney Schultz stated that the fire rating would be the same for the parcels involved in the boundary dispute whether the property was in the City or the Township, regardless of whether or not the Township had an ordinance requiring hydrants. Trustee Wiegandt said the only irrigation well systems he has seen are out west in areas where there was no other readily available water to fight fires, and in that case the wells were used primarily for irrigation, which would not be the case in the subdivisions here. The Planning Commission will investigate the possible benefits and costs of requiring hydrants in subdivisions.
It was left to the Planning Commission to determine what size subdivisions and/or which zoning districts the hydrants would be required in, if it was determined that it would be beneficial to the Township to require them.
According to Attorney Schultz the earliest time for the Boundary Commission’s adjudicated session would be March, more likely April. The final decision would be made at the following meeting. April or May would be the very earliest that a decision will be made.
Commercial Business Meeting - Manchester Plastics has requested to rent the hall for the next three Saturdays for training. The business is located in the city of Williamston. There is no Township connection other than probable resident employees. $100 security deposit and $75 per meeting. The Board agreed to allow the rental since it is such short notice and there are no other rentals on the books for those days.
4-H - Saddlemates - This group is interested in using the hall on the following Sundays: November 16, 1997 (prior approval given for this date); January 11 & 25, 1998; February 8 & 22, 1998; March 8 & 22, 1998; and April 5 & 19, 1998. Trustee Wiegandt would like to come up with some sort of project for the group to do as a community service in lieu of rent for the hall. It was decided that the Board will leave it up to the Saddlemates to propose a suitable project. The schedule was approved pending the proposal of a project.
Thank You Letter Was Sent To Paul Nieratko for the park plans from his class.
Newsletter - Treasurer Nilsson
The next newsletter is scheduled to be mailed out Feb. 1st. Deadlines were sent to all interested parties.
Sanitary Sewer Number 2 / East Side Project. 1987-89
The contract was entered into on the 3rd of February 1987 for an amount of $103,005.81
Monies received to date are:
Smiths 1st tap $1,000.00
Kane 2 taps water & sewer 3,029.60
Klapp 1 tap 1997 1,514.80 $ 5,544.40
9/13/93 Willow Village Agreement 2,000.00
1994 “ “ “ 2,112.78
1995 “ “ “ 2,539.10
1996 “ “ “ 2,302.36
1997 “ “ “ 2,480.21 $11,434.45
Total received to date / 17% received to date: $16,978.85
8 years since final payment on Contract
Waste Management, at the time an Ingham County Facility, was allowed to connect at no cost for the tap-in fees, per then City Manager Paul B. Goode.
Budget Review - There is no place in the current budget where we are over that needs to be amended.
The minutes of the December 2, 1997 meeting were amended to include brackets around statements that were added to the minutes after the meeting. Treasurer Nilsson moved to approve the minutes of the Regular Township Board Meeting held December 2, 1997 as amended; to acknowledge the Treasurer’s report of financial activities for December 1997; and to authorize the Clerk’s list of accounts payable on January 6, 1998 - checks # 8478 - 8552 for a total of $41,733.63. Supported by Clerk Graham. Supervisor Obst called for a roll call vote:
Ayes: Supervisor Obst, Trustee Wiegandt, Trustee Zaban, Treasurer Nilsson, Clerk Graham
Meeting Adjourned At 11:05 PM.
Shirley Graham, Clerk Susan Jennings, Recording Secretary