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Ortonville strategic planning

March 27, 2013 - Ortonville- A wastewater treatment system, expansion of sidewalks, and nature trails will be among the topics of discussion at a study session planned for 7 p.m., April 9, at the Old Town Hall.

The village council and village planning commission will both be present and the public is invited to attend.

"There's a need to have a strategic long-term plan," said Council President Wayne Wills. "We need to look at further development of the downtown area… We want the board and the community to be aware that the community is in need of some improvements to make it a better place for the citizens to raise our children and to have a business and to reside in."

Short-term, long-term and mid-range potential projects could include sidewalk extensions on Oakwood Road, East Ridge, and Sherman Court, as well as nature trails between Church Street and Edward Street by Harvey Swanson Elementary. But perhaps the most volatile potential project is a potential wastewater treatment system.

Sewers, or a wastewater treatment system as Wills prefers it to be called, have been a topic of discussion in the village for 50 years, he said. However, Wills noted the village recently obtained a piece of property suitable for a wastewater treatment facility for the relatively bargain price of $40,000.

The village closed on the property at 255 Narrin St. on Feb. 28. They purchased the property from Apex, a mortgage company that had ownership of the property after a foreclosure.

The village had previously obtained neighboring 278 Narrin at no cost due to unpaid back taxes and the council is interested in using both properties for a wastewater treatment plant to service businesses and residences within the village, as well as Brandon Schools.

The village is currently awaiting issuance of a discharge permit by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which Village Manager John Lyons said is "pretty much approved" and which will determine guidelines for how clean treated water must be prior to going back into Kearsley Creek.

Installation of a wastewater treatment system has been touted for years as a way to develop businesses in the village and improve property values. Failing septic systems are common and costly—an engineered system can cost thousands of dollars.

However, the cost of installing a village-wide wastewater treatment system has created controversy and resulted in no progress.

Now, with the village's purchase of the Narrin property, the time might be right.

"We will study the next steps and do a thorough evaluation of the feasibility of such a project," said Wills. "The fact of the matter is, there are a multitude of steps before we can come up with a price, whereas in the past, before any thorough research was done, there was a $40 million figure. We aren't talking anywhere near that— just a small starter system that could be added to, expanded as home owners request. A wastewater treatment facility is needed, but at a reasonable price."

Wills added that just as it is premature for the village to have a detailed analysis of costs, it would be premature for anyone to automatically say no to the idea of a wastewater treatment system, as the costs aren't known yet. He believes there are many reason to reevaluate the possibility of a wastewater treatment system, including new technology that wasn't available even 15 years ago.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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