Source: Sherman Publications

‘Hi-Hill people worked over’

by Trevor Keiser

May 16, 2012

In a last ditch effort for sewer reimbursement from Orion Township Hi-Hill subdivision residents were denied at the May 7 regular township board meeting.

After reviewing “thousands upon thousands of documents,” Trustee Mike Flood Jr. decided to stand by the Orion Township Board’s April 4, 2005 motion to deny reimbursement, which carried 7-0 at the time.

The motion to deny was carried on a 4-2 vote. Supervisor JoAnn Van Tassel and Treasurer Alice Young voted “no.” Trustee Mark Crane was absent.

Flood said “people should be accountable for their actions, not their words.”

“Because the Hi-Hill residents decided by their own actions to withdraw from the long ongoing lawsuit,” he said. “They were not made part of the settlement for the other residents living nearby.”

Flood was referring to the late 1980’s early 1990’s when residents on Waldon Road, Silverbell/Silver Valley Roads and in Hi-Hill pooled their money and hired an attorney to represent their interest against the expansion of the Eagle Valley Landfill, owned by Waste Management.

In early 1990’s Orion Township sued Oakland County and Waste Management for not abiding by the provision to seek approval of the expansion of Eagle Valley from the Township. The lawsuit was settled by the entry of two Consent Agreements - one between the County and the Township and the other between Waste Management and the Township.

The Township was provided with funds to do the following: pave Waldon between Joslyn and M-24, Giddings between Waldon and Silverbell, Silverbell between Giddings and Joslyn, install water and sanitary sewer lines along Waldon, Giddings, Silverbell and Silver Valley, and connect every residents along those roads to the water and sanitary sewer lineswithout cost to them. The residents in Hi-Hill were not roads to the water and sanitary sewer lines without cost to them. The residents in Hi-Hill were not included in this work because they had previously decided to withdraw.

Young argued there was a contingency added on May 15, 2000 by the township that if agreement was negotiated to allow Eagle Valley to expand, monies from Waste Management to re-pay Hi-Hill and Township for water, sewer, and road costs included be provided for.

“They didn’t know in 2012 we were going to approve an expansion when they made this,” Young said. “They put it in there if we did expand we would revisit reimbursement of the sewer funds to them, that’s exactly why we’re revisiting it.”

Young said the Hi-Hill people were “really, really worked over” and the money that should have been paid to them was used to build the Orion Center.

“That’s fine, I love the Orion Center,” she said. “I’m not complaining that’s where the funds went, but in my mind we used Hi-Hill money to build that Orion Center. They (Hi-Hill residents) should have been reimbursed.”

According to Township Engineers Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment, the Hi-Hill sanitary sewer cost $2,007,858. Half of that cost is $1,003,929. The Township Treasurer’s office said there are 204 proper owners in the Hi-Hill Special Assessment District. Each parcel owner’s proportionate share to be reimbursed would have been $4,921.22.

Trustee John Steimel understood where Young was coming from, but said that discussion should have come up when they opened up the consent agreement.

“In my mind if you’re going to relate it to this all the way back the Eagle Valley expansion and all this,” he said. “It should have been done in that consent agreement.”

Van Tassel said it was a “question of fairness.”

“I think they are as equally deserving as the people on Baldwin Road and on Silverbell/ Silver Valley who did get sanitary sewers supplied and did get water systems supplied. Hi-Hill did eventually get water and they got half the sanitary sewer,” Van Tassel said. “If it was OK to pay half the cost, I don’t know why it wasn’t OK to pay all the cost.”

Hi-Hill resident Mary Ann Ryan called the board’s decision “disgusting” because Hi-Hill residents have documentation proving in 2000 that the board voted that Hi-Hill would get reimbursed 50 percent for sewer if Eagle Valley expanded.

“Now they’ve expanded Eagle Valley and all of the sudden they’re going back on their promise yet it again,” Ryan said. “It’s just very disturbing to me the people we elected to office are not working on our behalf.” residents along those roads to the water and sanitary sewer lineswithout cost to them. The residents in Hi-Hill were not roads to the water and sanitary sewer lines without cost to them. The residents in Hi-Hill were not included in this work because they had previously decided to withdraw.

Young argued there was a contingency added on May 15, 2000 by the township that if agreement was negotiated to allow Eagle Valley to expand, monies from Waste Management to re-pay Hi-Hill and Township for water, sewer, and road costs included be provided for.

“They didn’t know in 2012 we were going to approve an expansion when they made this,” Young said. “They put it in there if we did expand we would revisit reimbursement of the sewer funds to them, that’s exactly why we’re revisiting it.”

Young said the Hi-Hill people were “really, really worked over” and the money that should have been paid to them was used to build the Orion Center.

“That’s fine, I love the Orion Center,” she said. “I’m not complaining that’s where the funds went, but in my mind we used Hi-Hill money to build that Orion Center. They (Hi-Hill residents) should have been reimbursed.”

According to Township Engineers Orchard, Hiltz & McCliment, the Hi-Hill sanitary sewer cost $2,007,858. Half of that cost is $1,003,929. The Township Treasurer’s office said there are 204 proper owners in the Hi-Hill Special Assessment District. Each parcel owner’s proportionate share to be reimbursed would have been $4,921.22.

Trustee John Steimel understood where Young was coming from, but said that discussion should have come up when they opened up the consent agreement.

“In my mind if you’re going to relate it to this all the way back the Eagle Valley expansion and all this,” he said. “It should have been done in that consent agreement.”

Van Tassel said it was a “question of fairness.”

“I think they are as equally deserving as the people on Baldwin Road and on Silverbell/ Silver Valley who did get sanitary sewers supplied and did get water systems supplied. Hi-Hill did eventually get water and they got half the sanitary sewer,” Van Tassel said. “If it was OK to pay half the cost, I don’t know why it wasn’t OK to pay all the cost.”

Hi-Hill resident Mary Ann Ryan called the board’s decision “disgusting” because Hi-Hill residents have documentation proving in 2000 that the board voted that Hi-Hill would get reimbursed 50 percent for sewer if Eagle Valley expanded.

“Now they’ve expanded Eagle Valley and all of the sudden they’re going back on their promise yet it again,” Ryan said. “It’s just very disturbing to me the people we elected to office are not working on our behalf.”