Annexation, 425 agreement issues may be for naught

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

Though not as exciting and attention getting as an ax murder, the proposed extension of sewer (and perhaps water) to about a dozen properties on the west side of U.S.-131 is a fascinating yarn that my sources tell me probably will go nowhere.

This all started two years ago when area Realtor Brian Silvernail announced that property owners along the west corridor of the expressway had filed a request in Lansing to be annexed into the City of Wayland. The idea was to obtain sewer and water on that stretch along 12th Street from 135th Avenue to as far south as 130th Avenue.

The strip of land is entirely within the borders of Hopkins Township, and residents now have to use septic tanks and water wells for sewer and water services.

Not to be outdone, the Hopkins Township Board then engineered establishing those properties as a Downtown Development District and Authority in a bid to capture tax increment financing and tax revenue from improvements. The district was established, but now Hopkins Township had to get into the business of seeking extension of sewer through what is called a 425 agreement between municipalities.

Hopkins Township Supervisor Mark Evans noted Wayland’s local tax levy is 16 mills annually while Hopkins Township levies just one mill, so it would be cheaper for the district to do business with Hopkins Township instead.

So Hopkins in July asked Dorr Township to extend its sewer service to the district, but Dorr officials declined to get involved. The plot thickened shortly afterward when Hopkins Township asked the Village of Hopkins to extend its sewer service to the district, though the proposal would cover a lot of real estate from the village almost to the expressway.

My sources have told me the village will not find it feasible economically and logistically to provide this service.

An eerie sidebar to all of this was that the proposed 425 agreement appeared on the Leighton Township Board meeting agenda last Thursday night. This, in the face of Dorr turning down the proposal as a member of the Dorr-Leighton Sewer Authority, and the recent 425 agreement Hopkins Township made with the Village of Hopkins.

The head scratching continues.

The City of Wayland deliberately has taken a neutral position on annexation and some officials privately have said they don’t see how any of this is going to happen. Though Wayland’s millage rate is significantly more than that of Hopkins Township, it would offer both water and sewer and the distance for the hookups would be a lot shorter.

Further clouding the issue is that the State Boundary Commission will take up the annexation request Nov. 10. At least one legal eagle has said the commission does not take kindly to the appearance that someone is trying to do an end run around proposed annexation.

So some in the know believe that all of this is for naught, just a waste of time and money.

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