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Private roads: Board needs to support majority of residents

November 10, 2010

Dear Editor,

(In response to, 'Private roads, public problem,' The Citizen, Oct. 30, page 1):

Being one of the prime movers behind the Shelmar Lane Special Assessment District (SAD), I have a few thoughts.

First and foremost, sharing expenses for road maintenance on township private roads involves the fundamental principle of fairness. Fairness is the basis of much that is American – taxation without (with) representation, equality among the races and sexes, collective bargaining, and so on…

Well-maintained roads promote a higher quality of life as well as create a safer environment for us to live in. This benefits all the residents of Brandon Township, not just those who live on any particular private road.

Since societal norms today seem to favor situational ethics, many homeowners who are somehow able to pay their property tax bills, cannot also find a way to pay the additional 5-10 percent of that same tax bill to join their neighbors in maintaining the neighborhood private road. I'm sure they justify it to themselves in some way (that situational ethics thing). With regard to Shelmar Lane, in the years leading up to the creation of the SAD, 30-50 percent of the residents chose not to pay for road maintenance. You can imagine the havoc this creates when trying to plan for proper road maintenance as well as the angst this creates between residents – the ones that pay versus those that don't (it feels like your neighbors are stealing from you).

Residents and neighborhoods need the help of the township to remedy this problem. Fortunately, Michigan statutes provide a path for this remedy, but the township needs to cooperate. I can certainly appreciate the work involved with creating several separate SADs within the township, it's not an easy process and it takes several public hearings to be complete. At the end of this period, barring any reasonable objection, the township board needs to support the majority of residents with approval.

Approval and administration of SADs is an area where our elected township officers and staff can really help the residents. Prior to the renewal of the Shelmar Lane SAD in four years, I will be looking to support candidates for township offices that are interested in supporting the residents as they strive for fairness and improved quality of life!

Dave Olney

Brandon Township