On October 25, 2022 the Oakland Township Board was locked in a three to three ‘deadlocked’ position regarding the location for the Michigan State mandated water storage facility for Oakland Township’s Southwest water district system. Three Board members wanted the facility located in The Crossings Subdivision at Kern Road, in spite of significant resident input to the contrary, while three members wanted the facility located on a potentially donated 5 Acre parcel of land across from Delta Kelly school on Adams and Gunn. Clerk Buxar did not attend the meeting. Neither location was approved. As a result, the Township may no longer receive the donated parcel.
Several years ago, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy required that Oakland Township install a one million gallon water storage facility to protect the many residents who have their water supplied by several pumps linked together in the Southwest region of the Township. The Southwest water system is shown on the following map as well as the other water systems in the Township. The residents that are directly impacted are those living in the subdivisions in the SW system that are serviced by the water mains shown in light green.
The Township has spend several years studying how best to meet the mandated requirement from the State for the Southwest system and other systems in the Township. After years of study, the Board selected two possible sites for final consideration. As stated earlier, one is located in The Crossings Subdivision on Kern Road, the other is on the Northeast corner of Adams and Gunn across from Delta Kelly School. Here is an arial view of the two proposed locations.
The Kern Road proposal would locate the storage facility next to an existing water supply pump house servicing that subdivision, and is linked to others in the district. The parcel of land is 1.7 acres.
The Adams Road proposal would locate the facility on a 5.7 acre parcel that is directly across the street from the Delta Kelly School on Adams and Gunn. The parcel is part of the proposed ARTEMIS VILLA Planned Unit Development. The donation of that parcel is a critical part of the Township’s agreement with ARTIMUS to use the Planned Unit Development option for their development. It is the “Public Benefit Essential Services” element of the plan that allows the more liberal Planned Unit Development option to be used. The ARTIMUS VILLA development is a 25 acre development with 38 site condominiums. It is located further east on Gunn Road, from the proposed 5.7 acre parcel. The development WAS approved on the 25th contingent upon the Township ultimately approving a water storage facility in the Southwest Water system district.
It was announced, at the October 25th Board meeting, that October 26th was the deadline given by the ARTIMUS developer for approving a water storage location as part of their agreement to donate the 5.7 acre parcel. Why the Board waited this long to make a decision on the storage location was not disclosed. Since the Board had not approved either water storage location, the developer has the option to back out of the agreement. The ultimate fate of the ARTIMUS PUD, the potentially donated parcel, and the water storage location is all uncertain at this time.
Getting back to the storage location issue, the Township hired a consultant company to analyze the positive and negative aspects of the Kern Road and Adams Road proposals. Here is a summary of that analysis.
The Board members were to use this information in their decision making process. Three of the Board members voted for the Adams Road location. Three voted for the Kern Road location. The ‘deadlock’ resulted in neither one be approved, even though there were dozens of comment from residents at both the October 25th, meeting and last month’s Board meeting, supporting the Adams Road location.
Here is a video of the rationale from Trustee Mabry supporting the Adams Road location.
Here is a video of the rationale from Trustee’s Elder, Zale and Giannangeli supporting the Kern Road location.
The following photographs are intended to demonstrate the impact a 45 foot tall water storage facility on Kern Road would have on the residents who live the closest to the proposed location.
At the end of the meeting on the 25th, Trustee Elder commented that he previously received a Powerpoint presentation from Trustee Buxar (who was not present at the meeting) regarding the water storage issue. He indicated that it helped him formulate his opinion on the matter. It apparently had not been shared with all the Board members, or the public. The Board asked him to send a copy of the presentation to the entire Board. As a result, it is safe to say that had Clerk Buxar been present, the Kern Road location would have been approved.
After the Buxar Powerpoint presentation was mentioned, Trustees Zale and Giannangeli attempted to pressure one of the Trustees, who supported the Adams Road location, to reopen the matter for decision that evening. They appear to have known how Clerk Buxar would vote. They also appeared to have made this request in order to prevent the possibility of the ARTEMIS developer retracting their offer for the land donation. None of the other three Trustees agreed to reopen the matter. They still felt there might be some way to have the Adams Road location selected. Here is a video of that dialog.
Why is this important to the residents of Oakland Township?
Oakland Township residents elect our officials to make decisions that are in the best interest of the citizens. Citizen input is a key part of making sure their voices are heard, and influence the decisions officials make. The many comments made by residents supporting the Adams Road location clearly did not influence three (and likely 4) of the Board members. The rationale for selecting the Kern Road location seems counter to the will of our residents. Are there other factors that have not been shared with the residents that influenced their decision? (Note the Buxar presentation that had not been shared with the entire Board or public).
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
It appears that the water storage location decision will be a topic for next month’s Board meeting. What is not known is whether the ARTEMIS PUD development will proceed or not, given the fact the water storage deadline has passed. Can any of the 4 Board members supporting the Kern Road location be made to change their mind? Can the Board members provide more rationale for their support of the Kern Road location? Concerned citizens may still be able to influence the direction the Board ultimately takes on this issue. Please continue to provide your input to the Board through emails on this matter. Also, attend the next Board meeting that is currently scheduled for November 15th.