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Posted: 01/01/14

Romeo, Washington at
odds over annexation

Observer Staff Writer
      Turmoil between Washington Township and the Village of Romeo surfaced in late 2013 with talks of annexation.
       The issue began in October when the Village Board of Trustees received a request from the Karam family to readjust boundaries to include their 550-acre property in Romeo. The property is on 32 Mile Road in Washington Township.
       The Karams made the request to receive sewer services for the property. Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said the village would have to approve of a petition before the Karams could seek annexation.
       A month later, Washington Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary said plans to annex a portion of the township were contentious and might be the last straw that divides the three towns.
       O'Leary said he wouldn't allow annexation using the protection provided by being a charter township.
       "It's a disruptive and unethical practice when a village or a city takes over the property of an adjoining town," said O'Leary.
       He said annexation of land typically results in a loss of value to a municipality and increases in taxes since millages are used to pay for critical services like police and fire.
       Portions of Armada Township have been considered for annexation with Romeo as well. In August 2012 Armada Township sought sewer services in its industrial district at 33 Mile and Powell roads. In September 2013, the village proposed boundary adjustment to move the properties into Romeo so they could receive the services.
       "For the purposes of the Village of Romeo, they can already use what is out there with permission, but if there are any expansions to the service we would adjust the boundaries," McLaughlin said.
       As a result, O'Leary said Washington was seeking legal action to put together ballot proposals that would separate the township from Parks and Recreation, the library district and STAR Transportation should annexation be attempted.
       "What Romeo has done is declare war on Armada's residents and Washington's residents," O'Leary said.
       Village President Mike Lee said any discussions were meant for information gathering about the process as opposed to moving ahead with boundary adjustments.
       "It wasn't a declaration of war on Armada Township or Washington Township, a request was placed on the agenda to have a committee talk about it, to get our points together because none of us know the protocol on it," he said.
       He said an intergovernmental agreement is a possibility instead of annexation, but the topic has yet to be fully explored by village trustees.
       "Information to me is the most important thing, knowing what is going on and every aspect of it," he said.
       Aside from potential legal action, Washington Township is looking into building its own wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Two sites are under consideration for the plant, and engineers are examining capacity requirements. Officials are also checking on permit availability.
       O'Leary said the WWTP could provide sewer to developments like those along Van Dyke from 29 Mile Road to 32 Mile Road. He said if communities want to join as a customer or as a co-owner Washington would permit it, but Washington doesn't require additional municipalities to move ahead with the project.
       "Washington has sufficient resources and a million reasons to do it," O'Leary said.
       Armada Township has already expressed an interest in the WWTP. Supervisor John Paterek said the plant would provide immediate relief to 2.5 square miles of Armada's industrial area.
       "We don't need a large amount, but without water and sewer it just won't develop as well," he said. "The ultimate goal is to create jobs."
       Armada Township wouldn't lose money from its general fund with boundary changes, but special assessments like fire services would be affected.

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Retrieved 4/24/2014 at 9:12:01 AM.
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