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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 09/18/13
Paint Creek Mill Race
project still on hold
by STACY SOBOTKAOakland Township residents who have waited a long time hoping for the restoration of the Paint Creek Mill Race will have to wait longer.
Observer Special Writer
The Oakland Township Board of Trustees heard an update on the mill race's progress at their meeting Sept. 10.
A previous plan by Detroit-based civil engineering firm Wade Trim would only allow 10 percent of water to be diverted into the mill race, and was rejected by the township and the residents along the mill race.
Attorney Charlie Dunn, who has experience working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), explained that the township is exploring ways to secure grant money for the project and put an engineering concept together.
"My goal is to come to you in the next two to four weeks again and discuss a plan to move forward and try to get ourselves an engineering concept and get some kind of idea what kind of dollars we're talking about, and quite frankly, what the scope of the project is," he said. "It's not a quick project, it's an expensive project, and we're trying to make sure it's done properly so that we're in a position where we may get some funding for this or at least in a position . . . for what we need to prove if we need to seek legal course for reimbursement."
The news did not sit well with Oakland Township resident Jan Olson, who has been the mill race's principal advocate since the beginning.
"I came here with a really positive mind, that something had been done. Basically, what's happened in the last six months is virtually nothing," she said. "We don't mean to be difficult, but we don't want 10 percent of the water 10 percent of the time. We need full flow to turn (the water wheel)."
Township Trustee Mike Bailey, who has worked extensively on finding solutions to restore the mill race, said he was just as frustrated as Olson was but reassured residents that they were in good hands with Dunn.
"I truly am encouraged by the approach that Charlie Dunn is taking. He has a proven track record of winning in similar kinds of situations. So I think we need to trust him in terms of his strategy, his approach of going forward," he said.
The board then gave an update on the Special Accommodation Use requested by Blossom Ridge developer Dominic Moceri. The request was made as the previous Board of Trustees had omitted several parts from the Special Accommodation Use (SAU). Township Supervisor Terry Gonser explained that he asked the applicant if he had any additional information necessary for the SAU to go through.
"There have been three meetings between the applicant and the chair supervisor. Those meetings were predominantly listening sessions," he said.
Gonser then explained that negotiations did not take place during the meetings. "Information was gathered and there may be more information coming," he said.
Moceri requested through Township Manager Jim Creech that the recommendation be postponed until the Oct. 8 meeting.
The board also approved an introduction and first reading of an amendment to Ordinance 16, the zoning ordinance allowing the rezoning of seven township parks for residential to recreation and conservation zoning.
Township Trustee Maureen Thalmann made a motion that only two of the parks be rezoned.
"These are already being used for recreational activities. I think to rezone it implies that we have approved these properties for recreational use and that approval brings expectations," she said. "I think it's fitting that as a park is improved, it comes to be rezoned. That's why I chose those two."
However, Thalmann's motion failed by a vote of 4 to 3.
"These properties were purchased for the sole purpose of conserving the land for whatever future purposes, but not residential development. They can be either active or passive parks, and I think that's what the majority of the people in the township voted for when they approved the Land Preservation Millage," said Bailey, who voted against Thalmann's motion.
Gonser also expressed concern that the majority of the parks had no recreational amenities.
"We have lots of kids in this township, and they all have to leave (the township) to recreate. I find that appalling and unacceptable. I would propose that no property be rezoned until there is a firm plan with a very short time schedule to be developed into a useable park, something our younger residents can and will use," he said.
The original motion was then passed by a vote of 4 to 3.
In other business, the Board of Trustees:
• Approved a motion to suspend a water tap charge until a further investigation is conducted.
• Approved an amendment to the Oakland County Sheriff's Contract to add a daytime desk officer at the Oakland Township substation.
• Approved a two-year extension of Final Preliminary Plat approval from March 2013.
• Approved a resolution to allow withdrawals from the 401A John Hancock pension system starting at age 55. (Previously age 65.)
• Approved the Metro Act Right of Way permit extension.
• Approved the appointment of Judy Keyes, Maureen Thalmann and Terry Gonser to a subcommittee over the proposed Marsh View Park connector parking lot. The subcommittee will consist of three board members and three park commissioners.