Homeowners group talks road millage, info sharing

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published January 22, 2019

 Council of Homeowners Associations President Mark Lifter gives his report during a COHA meeting Jan. 15 at Farmington Hills City Hall in the City Council chambers.

Council of Homeowners Associations President Mark Lifter gives his report during a COHA meeting Jan. 15 at Farmington Hills City Hall in the City Council chambers.

Photo by Alison Zywicki

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FARMINGTON HILLS — The Farmington Hills Council of Homeowners Associations had questions about a recently passed road millage, communication with city officials and more during a COHA State of the City meeting Jan. 15 at City Hall.

COHA President Mark Lifter helmed the meeting, which featured Mayor Ken Massey and City Manager Dave Boyer.

The Council of Homeowners Associations, according to www.coha-fa.org, assists subdivision and condominium associations in the Farmington and Farmington Hills area with homeowner problems such as deed restrictions, local land use, architectural controls and more.

Lifter, also president of his own homeowners association — the Franklin Forest and Fairway Association, a 62-home neighborhood around Northwestern Highway and 13 Mile Road — said a large number of homeowners associations were represented that night. 

He said in a follow-up phone conversation that there are around 60 homeowners associations in the city; about a third were represented at the meeting.

It’s a good forum for people to share information and to find out what’s going on in the city, he said.

COHA Trustee Bill Dolezal said early in the meeting that many association residents don’t know what goes on in the city.

“And the city sometimes doesn’t know, have direct knowledge of, sometimes, what goes on in associations,” he said, adding that it “would be nice” if one of the COHA members could be assigned to each department in the city. “And that department could use us as a sounding board, and we could find out what is going on in the departments.”

Lifter said improving overall information sharing is key.

 “If something happens important coming up from a particular part of the city … we can share that information or invite somebody (from the city) ... to come in on that topic,” he said. “We’re going to pursue that as well.”

Massey said that COHA is very “near and dear” to his heart.

“I was the president of COHA for a while and participated,” he said. It used to be that as city officials considered things like ordinance and zoning changes, one of the things they would do is notify COHA, he said, “so that the Council of Homeowners (Associations) would talk among themselves and give us feedback during public hearings of what the residents were thinking.”

But that kind of “dropped off” in terms of participation, he said.

“I would personally love to see that reinvigorated, because the best way we can represent you and the other residents of this great community (is) to know what you are thinking, and that was a great conduit for us to do that.”

Boyer said that, presently, the city does have effective communication tools.

From a crime perspective, the city uses Nixle, an emergency notification system. Nixle will get a facelift soon, and not only will it send emergency-type notices, but informational city material as well, he said.

Massey talked about how last year, the city used an almost real-time map that showed when subdivisions would be plowed in the event of more than 4 inches of snow.

“We are trying to utilize technology to communicate all these types of questions people have,” he said.

Boyer said that the city maintains 300 miles of roads.

“If you were to leave here and go to Mackinaw (City), it is under 300 miles — that is how much roads we maintain,” he said of the city staff and the 12 plows on the street during a snowfall.

In terms of last year’s road millage, Massey said it took the city almost three years to get the charter change on the November ballot “to allow us to move away from the special assessment districts for paying for local roads that moved to a millage-based system,” he said.

Voters in Farmington Hills approved 2.75 mills for roads Nov. 6, allowing the city to transition from special assessment districts to pay for road improvements to a millage.

Under the SAD policy, the city was responsible for paying 20 percent of the cost of repairs, while residents living on that road paid 80 percent.

Massey added that the city has allocated $11 million for subdivision roads this year. It costs the city roughly $1 million per mile to repave roads, and the city will do 10 to 12 subdivision roads per year.

“We had 158 (roads) that were in poor condition, so it is going to take us a while to get through them all,” he said.

Boyer said road projects begin in the spring; 4 miles of major roads will also be fixed.

One attendee asked how much the city is spending on naloxone — the opioid overdose reversal drug — and how much it costs the community.

Massey said first responders had to invest in the training, a couple of hours, which is part of normal paramedic training.

“It didn’t cost us any extra money,” he said, adding that the city works well with Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills. “That is something they help us with, so we don’t incur that large cost.”

“Kits were provided for us,” Boyer said. 

A person who overdosed on heroin may stop breathing, and using naloxone as soon as possible is vital to the person’s survival. It is a nasal spray, and officers have undergone training on the symptoms of a heroin or other opiate overdose.

Last year, 94 people had to have naloxone administered to them after they suffered an overdose.

“Luckily for those individuals, it was on time. … Those people have a second chance,” Massey said.

Farmington Hills resident Fritz Beiermeister, president of the Copper Creek Community Association — 510 houses in nine developments in an area bounded by Halsted, Haggerty, 12 Mile and 13 Mile roads — said he has been a member of COHA for a long time, and the meeting was “worthwhile.”

“I think it is a good way for the mayor and other people from the city to communicate with the people at a level where you can interact,” he said, adding that during the meeting, he asked about the legalization of marijuana’s impact on the city from a government standpoint.

Massey said it’s a “big gray area ripe for litigation.”

“My personal preference is that we opt out until we understand a little bit more of the regulations,” he said, referring to allowing marijuana dispensaries. 

Boyer said that the city does have to take some action in the near future or be “stuck with whatever the state says.”

Lifter said after the meeting that he received a lot of comments that it was a particularly useful session for association representatives to hear about key developments in the city.

“That is why we like to have that kind of meeting,” he said. 

Massey said that homeowners association boards can be some of the “toughest work.”

“Because you are hitting people where they live, so thank you for all of your service,” Massey said.

COHA meetings are held on the third Tuesdays of January, March, May, September and November in the auditorium of the Farmington Community Library Main Library Branch, on 12 Mile Road.

Socializing over refreshments starts at 7 p.m.; the business meeting starts at 7:15 p.m. and often features guest speakers.

For more information, go to www.coha-fa.org/contact-us.

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