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Refund coming for NE quad property owners



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June 22, 2011 - Property owners in downtown Oxford's northeast quadrant can expect to receive refund checks from the village.

Council last week voted 5-0 to refund 100 percent of the balance of a special parking assessment fund to the property owners who have paid into it. The motion is subject to review and approval by the village attorney and having the payment amounts for each property owner brought back to council for final approval.

In 1996, property owners in the northeast quadrant began paying a 15-year special assessment to the village for $200,000 worth of parking lot improvements which included acquiring and paving approximately 11,644 square feet of unimproved vacant land; resurfacing the existing parking lot; installing two dumpster pads; installing Detroit Edison lighting; and drainage improvements.

The final bond payment for that work is due July 1, leaving the village with an estimated balance of $24,498. This balance is the result of interest and penalty payments accumulated over the 15-year period.

The village was considering using these excess funds to help offset the attorney bills and land acquisition costs associated with its nine-year legal battle to obtain a 0.51-acre portion of the northeast parking lot from the private-ownership of the Grove family. In total, the village and DDA spent a combined $528,872 to win this land for free public parking.

However, the village learned that it couldn't legally use these excess special assessment funds for that purpose.

Officials were also considering using 50 percent of the excess funds for maintenance of the northeast parking lot.

But Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth didn't believe that was legally permissible. "The charter seems fairly clear, I felt, that once the special assessment was paid off, any excess funds are to be refunded to the people who (paid) it," she said.

"As much as we'd like to use that money for anything we want, I don't think we can," she noted.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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