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 The Clinton Township Board of Trustees approved four special assessment districts Aug. 6, including tying in residents from both Thornton Street and Tessens Drive. Residents on Tessens were upset at having to possibly pay higher taxes because they believe their street is in rather good condition.

The Clinton Township Board of Trustees approved four special assessment districts Aug. 6, including tying in residents from both Thornton Street and Tessens Drive. Residents on Tessens were upset at having to possibly pay higher taxes because they believe their street is in rather good condition.

File photo provided by Darwin Roche

Four road improvement plans approved by board in Clinton Township

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 21, 2018

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — At the Aug. 6 Clinton Township Board of Trustees meeting, the board unanimously approved special assessment districts for three projects: Abela Street, Lakewood Street and Picton Court. Thornton Street was also approved by a 6-1 voting margin, with Trustee Jenifer “Joie” West being the lone "no" vote.

Pursuant to Act 188, of the Michigan Public Acts of 1954, township residents can gather signatures for a petition for public improvement. That is due to townships being at the jurisdiction of the Macomb County Department of Roads for road-related projects. If at least 50 percent of a district signs a petition, a 50-50 match occurs between the township and the county, pending board approval.

The SADs were originally introduced at the board’s March 5 meeting. The Thornton Street district, located south of Metropolitan Parkway and west of Harper Avenue, drew the most upheaval from residents in attendance both in March and Aug. 6 due to how the project was designed. That is, districts cannot be redrawn and residents may have to pay a higher share if a neighboring street requires elaborate fixes.

The Thornton resolution specifically will include full-depth road reconstruction, road drainage improvements, replacement of all driveway approaches and other required incidental roadwork of approximately 2,650 lineal feet within a 27-foot-wide radius. All of Thornton will be completed, as well as Tessens between Thornton and Braden Street, the westerly 80 feet of Marston, part of Barr Street and the southerly 80 feet of Fordson Street.

Tessens residents fumed back in March, due to 13 homes being on the street, whereas Thornton is more populated and requires the bulk of the asphalt work. It was determined Aug. 6 that just one Tessens resident signed the petition to move ahead with the SAD.

The original estimate of the Thornton SAD was about $1.39 million, representing an average front foot cost of $319.44 per foot. With the county’s 50 percent match, the township’s cost would be about $695,000, or an average front foot cost of $159.72 per foot.

However, Clinton Township Public Services Director Mary Bednar verified Aug. 16 that the total of the entire project is approximately $1.5 million — or about $756,000 for the township residents’ half — and includes full-depth reconstruction and drainage improvements. She said that by project completion, it will be “a brand new road.”

Bednar said the average lot is about 80 feet wide in the district, and at 5 percent interest, that number would ultimately climb from about $14,000 to $17,500 — a price tag of about $175 per month for homeowners.

The original estimate was 4.5 percent interest — the same number the most recent SADs on Santa Anna and Santa Barbara streets were completed.

Robert Feyers, of Tessens, on Aug. 6 called the situation an “integrity issue” and couldn’t surmise why he and his Tessens neighbors are being asked to contribute to a project that includes a two-year maintenance and guarantee bond and may put people in financial jeopardy.

“I hope that the people of Thornton are at least thinking about this, and I feel sorry for the people who cannot afford it and end up losing their home over it,” Feyers said.

Darwin Roche, who lives on Tessens, offered what he called a “simple remedy” to the board: End the special assessment, remove Tessens homeowners from the list and just have Thornton residents voice their opinion.

“Thornton needs to be repaired, there’s no question it’s one of the worst streets in the community,” Roche said. “We do not argue that. However, due to just sheer numbers, there are more people on Thornton. Therefore, the people on Tessens are ‘me-tooed’ into this SAD.”

However, not everyone is distraught.

Thornton resident Richard Shaffer, who found success petitioning signatures on his third attempt, referred to his street as a “war zone” back in March. 

“I do feel for the people on Tessens. … We are all going to be neighbors after this,” Shaffer said. “We’re not trying to hurt anybody. But the roads are unsafe. They’re unsightly.”

Lois Kelly, who started the petition, said this was her fourth try on an assessment in her 52 years of living in the community. She said that after 25 years, similar road work was done. Now, she said, it’s time to make things better.

“I know it’s a hardship, but our streets need to be fixed,” she said. “And by fixing one, (it) isn’t going to make the subdivision look nice. And we have to sacrifice sometimes to make it work.”

Bednar said the contractor of all the SADs, Proline Concrete Construction, hopes to begin in early September. Lakewood is expected to be first, with two projects aimed to be completed in the fall and two more next spring.

Early estimates point to total completion by July 4, 2019.

“The Department of Roads, the way they bid this out, they have to be substantially completed before they start the next (project),” she said.

Cannon later said that the four SADs “demonstrate that there is a viable option for residents to get the road repairs they want for their streets.”

“Our residents were able to capitalize on a 50 percent match from the county, and we are so happy (Macomb County) Executive (Mark) Hackel put matching funds in his budget,” Cannon said. “As far as I know, this is the only program of its kind in Michigan where a county matched SADs for township roads in subdivisions.”

The SAD approvals came one day before a five-year, 1.9-mill road proposal was defeated by 54.3 percent of voters. It would have generated approximately $5.6 million annually.