Residents upset to be paying city utility bills
IMLAY TWP. — Despite pleas from residents to come up with a different agreement, the Imlay Twp. board voted to move forward on the 425 agreement with the City, clearing the way for about 250 acres of township land to potentially become available for an industrial park expansion.
During a required public hearing on the matter, Township Supervisor Rick Farkas said, “I don’t like it any more than you do.” He stated, “If we don’t move forward with this, the state will move in and take over and then we have no say in the matter.”
Farkas said the township and city have been working on the issue for at least six months. The property, situated south of Newark Road and on both sides of Blacks Corners Road, is currently agricultural.
Residents who have homes within the area of the property said they will be receiving city utility billing for water and sewer, even though they are not connected to the system. They also told the township board their taxes are going to double, a 100% increase, once the property is transferred to the city.
Another resident affected by the agreement with a home within the property commented, “it makes absolutely no sense to do this. We are going to be paying for something and get nothing in return. That’s just not right. This is going to impact our property values tremendously. Who wants to live next to an industrial park? Do you Mr. Farkas?”
At least one property owner, who said they have lived on the same property for 30 years, has contacted a lawyer who has drafted a letter to the township regarding the matter.
The township supervisor told the residents, “this board is responsible for all of the (2,800) residents in the township. Not just a few. We have to make decisions on what we feel is in the best interest of the entire township. Growth is coming, whether we like it or not. Are some people getting screwed? Yes, absolutely. I don’t like it either. Look, this is a hub that is going to be developed. It’s just a matter of when.”
He went on to add, “we don’t want this to go to the state. We saw what happened when they built I-69. They came in and took what they wanted and that was it. The same thing could happen with this property.”
Following a lengthy hearing, with discussion that became heated at times, the board passed a motion to enter into the 425 agreement with the city. The vote was unanimous.
Board member Chad Stoldt was excused from the 425 discussion due to a potential conflict. He was not part of the discussion on the 425 agreement and was not in the room when the vote was taken. He returned to the meeting after the formal action was taken.
Farkas said he anticipates signing documents with city officials in the coming weeks.
•In other board news; two residents discussed an ongoing issue regarding police response times. The residents both reported to the board that someone is shooting high-caliber weapons close to their homes.
At least three incidents have been reported to the Lapeer County Sheriff Department. One of the residents who addressed the board said the wait times for a deputy has been anywhere from a half hour to as long as to 45 minutes.
“When there are shots being fired, it’s concerning,” said one of the residents. “We all have families in the area and these people come out to their property on the weekends and start shooting all sorts of weapons. We are concerned for our homes and families, that something bad could happen.”
Supt. Farkas told the men he had been in touch with the sheriff department and would be meeting again to see what can be done. He told the board he is hoping to have a discussion with the department and board about going to full time (40 hours) police coverage.
Currently, the township pays a deputy for part time coverage who works a rotating schedule. Farkas said the township could consider other options, including contracting with the city police department for coverage to possibly help with response times for serious
•Farkas received board approval to name his son, Brandon, as Deputy Supervisor with his compensation being $500 per month. Sup. Farkas will also assume the role of DPW Supervisor, receiving a $250 per month stipend.
•The board approved raises for election workers, including the chairperson. After receiving a recommendation for the increase, the board agreed to pay election workers $17 per hour while the Chairperson will make $22 per hour. Anyone wishing to help with the 2024 elections was encouraged to contact the township. New next year will be early voting in February, eight days prior to the February 27 primary election. The new law requires more workers at the polling booths.