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Twp. eyes S.A.D policy

by Susan Bromley

March 09, 2011

Mckenna Lacki, 13, from the Brandon Equestrian team, serves Jodie and Roger Irvan at Bullfrogs, 2225 Ortonville Road. The team waited tables to help raise money for the team. Photo by Patrick McAbee.
Brandon Twp.- Residents seeking to have their roads designated as special assessment districts will encounter a new policy soon.

The township board discussed a set of rules for creating S.A.D.s during their March 7 board meeting. After some final costs are determined, the new policy will be submitted to the township attorney and brought back for board approval.

"We wanted a policy regarding special assessment districts so the process isn't used as an easy alternative for collecting fees," said Supervisor Kathy Thurman. "It's geared more toward private road maintenance than other types of special assessment districts. We want the S.A.D. petition to be a last resort of homeowners who are frustrated with their neighbors. Ultimately the care of the private road falls in the jurisdiction of the homeowners on the private road."

Clerk Jeannie McCreery explains that none of the costs of creating an S.A.D. can be spread to other taxpayers outside of the S.A.D. Costs associated with creating an S.A.D. include mailings to each resident, the attorney fees for each resolution, and the price for publishing legal notices. These costs will be figured and will account for the application fee in the new policy. The current fee is $300, but that figure may change, since it is believed by some boardmembers that will not be enough to cover expenditures.

The administrative fee in the new policy is proposed to be 7 percent to 10 percent. Currently, that fee is 5 percent. Other proposed policy changes include applying all special assessments to winter tax bills and dividing the total cost of the S.A.D. equally among parcels, with exceptions requiring board approval on an individual basis.

A committee to look at S.A.D. policy was formed last year after residents of two private roads approached the board requesting their roads be made special assessment districts. Residents on Shelmar Lane were approved for their S.A.D., but a third reading of a resolution to make Legault Boulevard an S.A.D. failed.

Those residents, frustrated that not all of the neighbors are chipping in for maintenance of the road, must now wait to learn what their fate will be, and may even have to begin the process over again after the board postponed making a decision on their status until after the new S.A.D. policy is in place.

"I would have voted to go ahead with Legault, because I think the Legault residents need to have some kind of result," Thurman said. "We've dragged it on long enough, we need to make decisions, but other board members want to see other stipulations added to their application."

McCreery said once an S.A.D. is setup, it isn't difficult to administer and it appears on the tax bills.

Thurman expects the board will revisit the issue within the next month.