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Village makes tentative deal on property with sewers in mind



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An empty warehouse at 255 Narrin Street, which may soon be village property. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
January 25, 2012 - Ortonville- The village council has approved a deposit on the purchase of property that could be used as the site of a future wastewater treatment plant.

During their Jan. 23 meeting, the council unanimously approved a motion to pay $2,000 as a refundable deposit to Apex Company for the purchase of the property at 255 Narrin St. in the village. Apex, based in Pennsylvania, is a mortgage company that owns the property after a foreclosure. The original asking price was $104,000. After some negotiations, the village council and Apex have agreed on a price of $40,000.

The sale will be contingent on a satisfactory phase 1 environmental study to be conducted by WRG, Inc. of Lapeer.

"This will be a good real estate development and we can control what goes in there if it is not used for a wastewater treatment plant," said Village Manager John Lyons. "A lot of good things can happen."

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The phase 1 environmental study will cost $2,000 and will include a report on the history of both 255 Narrin, and 278 Narrin, which the village has taken possession of due to unpaid back taxes. The study will take about a month, during which WRG will do extensive research on the history of the properties, including past owners and uses of each property.

The last tenant of 255 Narrin St. was Ak'wa Water Company. The business was located in a 14,000 square-foot warehouse on the property until 2009 and was founded in 1997. The Quigley family, which owned Ak'wa, purchased the property in 1986. Then warehouse is on the verge of being condemned and will now be secured until its demolition, said Lyons. The property at 278 Narrin St. was last used by Waste Away, a trash disposal company which used the premises from 1992 until about 2008.

The environmental study will include a walk-through of the properties to evaluate wetlands. The study does not include soil borings. Additional investigation may be needed based on results of the initial study.

The adjacent properties, their location within the village, and their size and proximity to Kearsley Creek makes them attractive for a potential wastewater treatment plant, said Village Council President Wayne Wills.

"We're nowhere near that decision, but it leaves us with options," Wills said. "The price is favorable to potentially be used for that purpose if in fact we want to do so. The price of the land is so attractive, we would be remiss if we didn't pick it up. If it turns out it is not viable or the facility is not going to happen, we'll remarket the property."

Bringing sewers to the village has been discussed for decades. A lack of sewers in the community has crippled business growth and failing septic systems have continually caused health concerns, including e coli in Kearsley Creek and the condemnation of homes. Oakland County Health Division Manager George Miller has said when current septic systems fail, residents need to go to engineered systems, which in the long-term are more expensive than sewers. He noted that for maintaining public health, sewer systems are far healthier.

A sewer timeline was postponed indefinitely in July 2007 due to a lack of property for a wastewater treatment plant and faltering support in a crumbling economy. A straw poll regarding interest in sewers was sent to 1,195 residents and businesses along the M-15 corridor and around Bald Eagle Lake and Lake Louise in early 2007. More than 600 replies were received, with nearly 60 percent of respondents voting that they were not interested in sewers.

In January 2009, a joint sewer committee was formed with village council members and Brandon Township officials, who had been entertaining the possibility of a joint sewer venture with Genesee County. That proposal featured a Kearsley Creek interceptor in which a large underground pipe would collect wastewater and take it to a treatment plant. The idea was nixed when it was discovered the cost would have exceeded the cost of the township and/or village building their own wastewater treatment center.

Wills believes sewers are necessary for a viable community and business district. The council is conducting due diligence in investigating the possibility of placing a sewage treatment plant on the Narrin properties, which could be used to service businesses and residences within the village as well as Brandon Schools.

"There are multiple residences and businesses who have had septic failures or are on the verge of a septic failure, and without a system, their only solution is to dig into their own pockets and have engineered county approved systems that are much more expensive than them hooking into a system with infrastructure," Wills said. "We could have sewers in two to three years if this is a good environmental study and the council decides to go forward with pursuing a wastewater treatment plant."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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