Harrison Township residents have options for road repairs

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published April 26, 2019

 Deteriorating local roads such as Chartier Street in Harrison Township may be fixed if a majority of residents opt for a special assessment district to help them pay for improvements themselves.

Deteriorating local roads such as Chartier Street in Harrison Township may be fixed if a majority of residents opt for a special assessment district to help them pay for improvements themselves.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — If residents want improvements to their deteriorating streets in Harrison Township, they can either pay more taxes via a road millage or they can, along with neighbors, request a special assessment district and pay for the work themselves.

SADs are not uncommon, said Township Supervisor Ken Verkest.

“It’s the ultimate in local control,” he said.

Residents aren’t able to form an SAD for road improvements themselves, though they can propose one from the Board of Trustees. The initial step involves an estimate of the cost followed by a petition seeking majority rule — or 51 percent — by residents or property owners from every resident or property owner on that street.

“Very rarely is a board going to impose an SAD on a group of people,” Verkest said. “One exception would be the bridges in Huron Pointe (Drive). We knew 95 percent of the funds (for bridge repairs) were coming from the federal government and the rest to be matched by the county, so we went ahead with no input from the residents.”

A recent request was made by residents on Chartier Street, located between L’Anse Creuse and Coleridge streets, where potholes and broken asphalt are abundant and uneven areas pose further driving hazards.

There are 43 lots in the Chartier Street SAD.

According to the township, the road improvement will consist of crushing and reshaping the existing pavement to create a new base material with the addition of a new, 4-inch-thick asphalt surface. Minor drainage work and driveway patching will be completed as necessary to match the drives with the new roadway surface. The manholes will also have to be brought to grade and sealed.

The Macomb County Department of Roads will construct the road improvements with an estimated cost of $275,676. The final assessed cost is based on actual construction and miscellaneous costs and will be divided equally among the 43 lots on Chartier Street, which comes to $6,411.07 per lot.

“These numbers are conservative. You only pay for exactly what (the cost) is,” Verkest said. “Generally speaking, we can’t exceed the cost by 3 percent, though we keep the estimate typically high and I have no recollection of ever going over.”

Verkest said it’s up to the property owners on the street or road to decide whether they want to pay per lot or per acre or frontage.

“Per parcel is the most equitable,” he said. The cost per acre would have come to $705.57, with each property owner paying an amount based on their particular lot size.

Verkest said payment can be made in full or it can be paid over time on the resident’s tax bill “with a low rate of interest.”

In the long run, he indicated that such improvements are advantageous to property owners in many aspects.

“You realize the potential increase in property values,” Verkest said. “It’s that local control again. You do your own roadwork and you don’t pay any more or any less. There are unique advantages to it, and it typically results in an increase in property values.”

The Brigantine Estates, located off of North River Road, and Riviera Street completed SAD road improvement projects last year. SADs are currently in the works for Circolo and Corto streets. Verkest said there are more in the works as well.

In 2014, voters were asked to support a 1.5-mill increase to property taxes to repair all deteriorating and weathered local roads over a 20-year period. The ballot proposal narrowly failed in the general election, with 51 percent against and 49 percent in support.

During a recent public hearing, a handful of residents on Chartier Street voiced their support of the road improvements, but asked the board to ensure that additional areas of concern be dealt with as well.

Gerry George said the culvert needs to be addressed and the road should be raised near the Chartier Street approach to L’Anse Creuse Street.

“If you don’t raise the road, you’re going to end up with the same flooding conditions that you have now and it’s going to deteriorate the road again, and we’ll have spent all that money for nothing,” George said.

Scott Malik, one of the residents who created the petition for the road improvements, said that area is also a safety hazard as it ices over in the winter.

“I’m 100 percent for the road being redone, but we do need to address some issues,” Malik said. “The end of the road being the biggest one. The culvert needs to be paid for by the county or the township. And the road needs to be raised. If they can’t raise the road, then there’s no sense in doing the project.”

Malik said that if those two issues are not going to be addressed as part of the project, he would be inclined to withdraw the petition.

Verkest said there’s a 90 percent chance that those issues will be addressed in the final project. The Board of Trustees will take action on the Chartier road improvement project during its May 13 meeting.

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