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Homeowners group rep slams Leighton for lack of action

Lauren Hughes

A representative from the Horse Shoe Estates Homeowners Association abruptly left the Leighton Township Board meeting Thursday night, unhappy with the lack of action on a request for a special assessment agreement to pave three private roads in the subdivision.

Lauren Hughes of association accused the board members of dragging their feet on the matter. He first appeared with the request at May meeting and each time since there has been no action because officials have said they need more information.

Hughes said 26 of the 30 homeowners at Horse Shoe Estates have signed a petition seeking to have the paving done, which is 87 percent. However, Township Board members are concerned about the four who didn’t sign.

“One didn’t sign because he’s moving,” Hughes told the board, adding another is generally opposed to any cooperative project.

Clerk Mary Lou Nieuwenhuis said she’s concerned that if the township agrees to fund the project up front, the four dissenters may refuse to pay and win on appeal to the state tax commission, thereby leaving the township on the hook for two-thirteenths of the total cost of the project.

Hughes said association members have indicated no interest in picking up the cost for the four holdouts because then they would get the unfair advantage of paved roads for free.

A member of the audience, noting the roads are private, said, “I don’t see why taxpayer money should be involved.”

Though acknowledging special assessment arrangements have been used before lake projects, Trustee John Hooker said roads are different than lakes.

Hughes said the association already has set aside $16,000 to contribute to the project and members will pay the township back for the rest of the money over five years.

Treasurer Char Troost said the township has had bad experiences in the past with special assessment projects. “It is kind of a nightmare to go through.”

Homeowners would share the costs of the paving, which Hughes originally said should be about $75,000, according to a bid he has secured from Superior Asphalt. They would have several years to make the payments.

Nieuwenhuis said more information is needed from attorney Roger Swets, who would handle this case.

Hughes abruptly left the meeting visibly upset and telling the board he would have to take the news of lack of action to the association.

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