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Sewers, property issues spark debate in detachment vote



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August 15, 2012 - Following the Genesee County Board of Commissioners unanimous vote to put the partial detachment of the Village of Goodrich to Atlas Township on the Nov. 8 ballot several concerns regarding the details of detachment and just what it means to taxpayers has surfaced.

The November vote comes after village resident Patricia Wartella filed signed petitions in April to the Genesee County Clerk for the detachment of 87 parcels of property within the village to Atlas Township. The areas include properties on Shuman Drive and in Mill Pointe Shores and Fariview Hills subdivisions. Residents of the village, Atlas Township and the proposed detached areas will vote—a simple majority is needed.

On Monday night John O'Brien, director of the water & waste services division of the drain commissioner's office discussed the detachment issue and concerns regarding the sewer system and other village assets at the Goodrich Village Council meeting.

At issue are Mill Pointe Shores subdivision including 60 parcels with 31 homes tied into the sewer system and Fairview Subdivision which has 45 parcels with 16 homes currently on the sewer system. Shuman Drive has no hook ups to the sewer system.

"There is a value to the sewer system—Atlas Township would have some liability if the detachment is successful," said O'Brien. "But nothing is going to happen regarding division of the sewer system asset until there's a vote. I have no authority before the vote," he said.

"However, we are sending out a letter to have a meeting with all parties involved. We will strive to get a value on the assets before the vote in November. Our idea is to start in September to hammer out a decision and provide Atlas Township and the village residents information regarding costs."

The committee of three that will decide the assets to be detached will include a one representative from the Village of Goodrich, one representative from the Atlas Township and one impartial engineer to assist in developing the value of the assets, added O'Brien.

"The impartial mediator along with the committee will make a recommendation to the drain commission for the transfer of assets. The drain commission will then make a final decision on the value."

Several factors my prompt debate added O'Brien.

"Keep in mind the Village of Goodrich must remain whole," he said. "They have to look at just what are they loosing in the detachment. They could look at the depreciation method, going back to the day those sewers were installed. Also, there's the future value of the sewers that Goodrich could count on. Consider right now there's about 60 possible tap-ins between Fariview (Subdivision) and Mill Pointe Shores. That's revenue to the village that must be taken into consideration."

O'Brien also said the county does not allow a whole subdivisions behond the boundries to franchise into the sewer system but single homes are allowed.

"The idea is there's one sewer line and it's shared rather than duplication. For example Goodrich Schools are part of the Village of Goodrich although it's in Altas Township," he said.

Furthermore the sewers are the property of the Village of Goodrich.

"The people that live in downtown Goodrich or anywhere in the village have ownership of the sewers

Wartella said the facts will be gathered before the vote in November.

"There's not going to harm to anyone in the detachement areas," she said. "You have to wait until the information is available. We not going to blindside anyone. People's lives are going to remain the same. The bottom line is we have the vast majority in agreement with the detachment. It's nothing to be fearful of—state statue allows us to take to a vote regarding detachement. We are just asking to be Atlas Township resident."

There will always have sewers bills to pay," added Wartella. "As a tactic to divert the vote. We are not just talking about sewers here we talking detachment. When Atlas township acquires us, we are a positive for them. It's not a negitive. It's going to be a wash in the township we will bring the facts forward. O'Brien, would do much good with a public hearing. The public needs to come in and ask the questions. This is a positve in the State of Michigan. We want to eliminate a layer of government. We have too much government. Lets get on the same page.

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