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Posted: 01/08/14

Romeo to focus on
physical changes in 2014

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Changes to infrastructure and village property are in store for Romeo in the 2014 year.
       Many of the items village officials are looking forward to in the coming year revolve around large developments, property use and road improvements.
       One of the biggest developments in Romeo is the 66,515 square foot Medilodge complex located east of the St. Clement of Rome Church. The development is scheduled to be completed in the summer and create 120 to 150 jobs.
       Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said the development will not only provide an addition to the tax base, but a good skilled nursing facility in general.
       "When you have an incident happen to an elderly person, they'll be going there for their rehabilitation," she said. "I think the location of it is going to service not only just our area but the area to the north, east and west, the surrounding area."
       Issues involving annexation with the surrounding area may see resolution this year. Property owners on 32 Mile Road want sewer for their 550-acre property, and to do so village policy states the property must be annexed into Romeo.
       Washington Township is fighting the annexation, saying if Romeo pursues it the township will consider separating itself from joint ventures like Parks and Recreation or the library.
       McLaughlin said the owners have withdrawn their request as of Dec. 9, but added it would've been a disservice to not abide by policy and examine the request.
       "We didn't even get to a point where we wanted to do it or not," she said.
       In addition, Washington Township is investigating the construction of its own wastewater treatment plant, which would ultimately make the annexation moot.
       "If Washington Township can build itself up it doesn't have to tear Romeo down in the process," she said.
       Romeo is building itself up with help from the Macomb County Department of Roads. The department is planning on modifying the traffic signal at Main Street and St. Clair Street. Village President Mike Lee said the project will likely occur in June and update the lights and pedestrian signals.
       In addition, McLaughlin said she would like to see E. 32 Mile Road paved from Main Street to the bike path for new curbs and gutters. She said the village would have to find ways to assist in funding the project, which would be handled by the Department of Roads.
       "It would allow for a better visual effect as you're coming into the village, it would allow the neighbors to have a little bit safer attempt to mow their lawn between the curb and sidewalk without getting run over," she said.
       McLaughlin said the village will try to stay within budget, but will have to look at other road and sidewalk repairs, as the village's roads were last worked on in 1995. She said sidewalks are the responsibility of residents, but the village will pay for half the cost of pouring concrete. If not, the village has to contract the work out or do it in-house for smaller projects.
       The village is also looking at replacing trees that have been lost over the years. In the last two years alone, 30 trees have fallen in the Romeo Cemetery.
       These projects may hit a snag depending on how a vote this August goes on changing personal property taxes. If approved, the changes would cause Romeo to lose 33 percent of revenue over three years.
       "Only five counties are really super-affected by it," Lee said. "We're the number one affected in the County of Macomb percentage wise."
       McLaughlin said the village has tried to prepare for the potential loss by moving 50 percent of the sewer bond payments to the sewer fund. She said the hope is to move it all over to free up $430,000 to $455,000 a year from the general fund.
       Utility rate changes are expected to come before village trustees this month, though McLaughlin said adjustments would mainly keep up with costs and maintenance.
       Aside from structural changes, the village may see some new elected officials. The positions up for election this year include president, clerk, treasurer and three trustees. Village residents must file by August to apply.
      


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