Saline Township attorney Frederick Lucas and Adelina Farms attorney Allen Green squared off at Monday night’s Saline Township Board meeting, presenting differing views of the controversial development proposed for to the west of the City of Saline.
Green asked the Board for permission to recount the history of the Adelina Farms proposal, and the time and money that has been spent by the developer. Green stated, “at a public hearing in October 2014, there were no objections to this development proposal.”
Green went on to highlight the developers of Adelina Farms, a 117-acre, 155-single family unit proposal, has spent over $200,000 and well over two years trying to work out the details of how the utilities for the project will work.
“In the original 425 proposal with the City of Saline, the plan was to hook into the River Ridge water and sewer systems,” Green stated, “and the township board was interested in pursuing this agreement.”
Attorney Lucas quickly corrected Green by re-stating that the Township Board had never taken a vote to approve the hook in to River Ridge.
Green read the Township Board minutes which read that the Township Board was interested in pursuing the 425 arrangement.
Lucas interrupted Green again by saying “interested in pursuing is not voting. You can’t say that this Board has approved the connection to the River Ridge water and sewer systems. That is absolutely not true.”
The Adelina Farms development team has spent much of 2016 and 2017 talking with the City of Saline engineers, city staff and city council. The developer has spent more than $200,000 for feasibility studies but in the end the City of Saline and developers concluded that getting water and sewer services for the Adelina Farms development was cost prohibitive and the talks ended with no agreement.
Andelina Farms engineer Bill Anderson said “to hook up to the City of Saline water and sewer systems would have cost $30,000 per house in the development, making it impossible to do. And the City of Saline said they did not have the $6 - $10 million dollars for the upgrades to the system that are needed.”
Anderson added that River Ridge owners had met with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and they said “everything was fine with the River Ridge system and they would not object to Andelina Farms hooking into that water/sewer system”.
In a break from the usual meeting style, the township board allowed members of the audience to speak and ask questions during the conversation about the development proposal. Representing the Austin Commons Homeowners Association II, Jim Ohren-Hoeft clarified that residents of the affected areas were never informed of the proposed hearings and meetings, “so it wasn’t a lack of interest or objections, it was a lack of knowledge of the opportunity to voice our concerns.”
Ohren-Hoeft added “to this day the owner of River Ridge has never engaged residents of Austin Commons and River Ridge to talk about the Adelina Farms request to hook into the water/sewer systems.”
Austin Commons residents use utilities from River Ridge.
As attorney Green pressed the board for a vote on the River Ridge hook-up question, and attorney Lucas fired back, saying the Board did not have to vote on the River Ridge question, the board members weighed in to say that they would not take a vote on the River Ridge request, ending the debate.
Immediately, Green asked for a vote on the development’s Plan B which is to develop its own water and sewer system onsite at the development. Township Supervisor Jim Marion and Trustee Robert Prehn questioned the ground water discharge and where Adelina Farms would direct the water run-off if they built their own system.
Anderson said that they would designate a piece of the property for the retention pond and said that water run-off “would not affect neighboring properties at all.” Attorney Green said that the proposal had two major steps with the Township Planning Commission and asked that the board vote to approve the project moving forward to permit the Planning Commission to conduct its work.
In a motion by Trustee Robert Marion, seconded by Clerk Kelly Marion, the Board voted unanimously to approve the project moving forward. Trustee Prehn said that his vote was a “reluctant yes vote” as he asked for additional information from the developer but didn’t want to hold things up unnecessarily.
Macon Road Bridge Repair Has No Firm Date Set
Township residents will have to endure the closure of Macon Road, between Braun and Willow Roads as Washtenaw County has not indicated when they will begin work on the needed bridge repairs. Treasurer Renee Luckhardt mentioned that she had heard that Washtenaw County was going to begin work on covering Willow Road, between Jordan and Macon Roads, with limestone. She questioned why they would begin that work right before winter when it is likely that snow plowing could push the limestone onto the sides of the road but the Board acknowledged that it is a county road and their decision as to its maintenance.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:33 p.m.