MSHDA Blight Elimination Program – Notice of Funding Availability

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is seeking proposals in support of targeted demolition activity within local units of governments across Michigan with the goal of initiating or triggering private investment and development; supporting current investment and development; promoting public safety, and/or stabilizing and increasing the property values of the project area­.    

Award Limit:

  • For communities that have a population of 50,000 or less, the minimum award is $25,000, and the maximum award is $250,000;
  • For communities with a population of over 50,000, the minimum award is $50,000 and the maximum is $500,000; and
  • The maximum amount of grant funds allowed per residential structure is $25,000.
  • The maximum amount of grant funds allowed per commercial structure is $100,000. 

Eligible Applicants: Local units of government (counties, cities, townships, or villages) and local Land Banks. 

Eligible Properties:

  • Must be vacant at the time of acquisition;
  • Must be blighted, which is defined as meeting any of the following criteria:
    • Properties have been either deemed a public nuisance according to local code or ordinance or deemed a nuisance because of age, physical condition, or use;
    • Properties are a fire hazard or otherwise dangerous to the safety of persons or property; or
    • Properties have had utilities, plumbing, heating, or sewage disconnected, destroyed, removed or rendered ineffective so that the property is unable to meet state and local building code.
  • For residential demolition, the Grantee must provide documentation that last use was as a single-family or multifamily residential 1-4 unit structure;
  • For commercial demolition, property must be in or adjacent to a residential area. Commercial demolition must be part of a development project with funding commitments, and must include a local match of at least 10%.
  • Must be publicly-owned.

Ineligible Projects:

  • Demolition of structures with known or suspected environmental contamination (e.g., sites with underground storage tanks, structures previously housing dry cleaning establishments, etc.), not including lead or asbestos;
  • Demolition of industrial property;
  • Property acquisition or redevelopment
  • Demolition of properties that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places (either individually or as part of a historic district) or those found within local historic districts designated under 1970 PA 169 for which the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and/or the local historic district commission has not already approved demolition.

Applications must be received on or before 5:00 PM on June 21, 2017.  For more details including how to apply (and deadlines), go to

Village of Bear Lake Council Meeting May 17, 2017

The Village no longer records its meetings for public access. The following was provided by a volunteer and joins the meeting in progress at the Correspondence portion. An email was sent by a local resident drawing the Council’s attention to the relevance of the ALICE report for Manistee County.

The ALICE Project – (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed)

Why we should support United Way-Manistee County

[United Way is committed to ensuring that our communities are viable places to live and work. To do that, we promote current research, community dialogue, and data-driven policy solutions. These elements form the basis of one of United Way’s broadest and fastest-growing initiatives – the United Way ALICE Project.

ALICE was coined by United Way in 2009 after a pilot research project looked at the low-income population in affluent Morris County, one of the five founding communities which merged in 2011 to become United Way of Northern New Jersey. The original study focused primarily on data from 2007, largely before the effects of the economic downturn, known as the Great Recession, were widespread.]

Download the Michigan ALICE 2017 update report – Click Here

View the complete report and program online here

2017 Kids Count

“The ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of need in Michigan to date. By unveiling new metrics including the ALICE Threshold, Household Survival Budget and Economic Viability Dashboard, our communities now have the proper tools to discuss need around the state. ”


Single adults now need an annual salary of just over $18,000, while a family of four needs an annual salary of over $56,000 – just to afford the basics.”

Village of Bear Lake Council Meeting May 17, 2017, 7:00 p.m.

The following was received from Village Clerk. Ms. McPherson. Under the terms of a standing 6 month FOIA Subscription the following request was sent on May 16th:

“May we please receive the Finance Report Spreadsheets as requested – i.e your Budget to Actual by Line Item by Fund accounting sheets.
Also all Reports and Correspondence received.”

Village of Bear Lake Council Meeting ,May 17, 2017
7:00 p.m. – Village Hall

    • Additions:
  4. PUBLIC COMMENT: Any agenda item ONLY (two (2)-minute maximum)
    • Note: Members of the public will speak only when recognized by the chair person.
      1. Regular Meeting April 19, 2017
      1. Approval of Treasurer’s Report
      2. Amendments
    • BILLS to be PAID:
    • PARK:
    • TREES: Thompson bid and planting of new trees
    • STREETS:
    • WATER:
    • SIDEWALK:   
    • BLIGHT/CABA : Blight Enforcement Officer report
    • AD HOC COMMITTEE: Policy, Resolution & Ordinance Committee  – No report
    • Resolution – Millage
    • Resolution – Plow Truck
  8. Follow up on items from April’s council meeting:
    • DeRidder’s sewer
    • “No parking” sign on Smith Street – it is up.
    • Mario Lopez trees
  9. PUBLIC COMMENT: General Time – Any Village-related item (three (3)-minute maximum)
    • Note: Members of the public will speak only when recognized by the chair person.
    • Items on agenda or not listed



Major Street 4/01/2017-4/30/2017 $153.99

Minor Street 4/01/2017-4/30/2017 $123.35

Park Fund 4/01/2017-4/30/2017 $777.50

Water Fund 4/01/2017-4/30/2017 $188.75

TOTAL $1243.59


Major Street $332.74

Minor Street $298.91

Park Fund $940.25

Water Fund $236.25

TOTAL $1808.15

Total to transfer to General Fund = $3051.74

Treasurer’s authorized disbursements 5-16-17:

Amount Fund Notes
Hourly Employees General 520,180,520,100,117,520,
Bear Lake Promoters 225.00 General Office Banner approved at April meeting
Charter Communications 146.10 General Office WiFi & phone service
Consumers Energy 947.54 General 7750 Main, 7576 Lake, 7780 Lake, Street lights
Superior Energy 334.31 General 2-28 / 3-31-17
Salaries 1,950.00 General CMc1000,JCB 250,slk700
State of Michigan General Sales, Use and Withholding Tax 1/4ly return
United States Treasury (IRS) General Add’l Employer’s Withholding First 1/4
Total from General Fund 3,602.95
Consumers Energy 748.00 Water well houses
Superior Energy 24.09 Water well houses
CenturyLink 74.68 Water well house phone
Total from Water 846.77
Charter Communications 257.29 Park WiFi
Consumers Energy 201.64 Park 7780 Lake, 7727 Park
Park Manager 172.00 Park
Consumer Cellular 36.29 Park
Total from Park 667.22
BP Major Gas & Diesel charges 2-11 / 3-2-17
Total from Major Street
BP Minor Gas & Diesel charges 2-11 / 3-2-17
Total from Minor Street
Treasurer’s Authorized Disbursements 5-17-17ThisPCDocs17

Regulating Medical Marijuana Facilities: A Workshop for Local Government

Michigan State University Extension and the Land Policy Institute recently collaborated to deliver training to more than 800 people on the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act passed in 2016. The training targeted local units of government to explain their options under the new laws.
In addition to conducting a webinar training, the “Regulating Medical Marijuana Facilities: A Workshop for Local Government” was conducted at various locations around the state during February and March 2017.
An MSU Extension web page is now available that houses useful information related to the Licensing Act, including resources from the training, such as impacts and effects, sample ordinances, fact sheets, Q&A’s and more. Learn more at: Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act.
Photo courtesy of MSU Extension.

April 19, 2017 Village Council DRAFT Minutes

To comply with Section 508 – here is a text readable version of the PDF received – Drafted Minutes April 19, 2017

Village of Bear Lake Council REGULAR MEETING

April 19, 2017 Bear Lake Village Hall

Unapproved Minutes

The regular meeting of the Bear Lake Village Council was called to order by President Jeff Bair at 7:00 p.m. at the Village Hall. Pledge of Allegiance was said.

Present: President: Jeff Bair Council: Peggy Bass, Jackie Johnson, Marla Evans, Joanne Schroeder, Ron Ronning and Greg McPherson
Treasurer: Sally King, Clerk: Cindi McPherson Staff: Larry Gibson and Jared Bair

Absent: none

Guests: Nineteen (19) guests signed in

Motion to Adopt the Agenda as presented and with additions by McPherson and seconded by Ronning, motion carried.
Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, G. McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
Nay: none


  • After Adoption of Agenda – update on burned building
    • Old Business:
      o Re-accept the Articles of Incorporation, sewer – Clerk McPherson
      o DeRidder sewer update – Bass
    • New Business
      o Attorney Quinn not present, Ben Guerra to present
    • o Signage – Bass

Update on Odd Fellows burned building – Jeff Bair

  • Building is Manistee County owned and insured at this time due to back taxes. The county will make the site safe after removal of burned building material. Unsure of future of site at this time.

Public Comment on:

  • “No Parking” signs at Smith & Main Streets – Bair stated it is going up.
  • Maple trees need to come down on Lynn Street – Bair stated, Thompson tree company will be checking this out and other trees around town.
  • Medical Marijuana dispenser in Bear Lake downtown and distribution hubs. He is opposed to any within the village/township of Bear Lake.
    o Additional guest commented that Bear Lake Township is writing an ordinance on Medical Marijuana.
  • Thank you for the use of the Village Hall during the fire for CERT to use, very helpful.

Correspondence: Read by clerk:

  • Letter from Manistee, Mason, Oceana Household Hazardous Waste Committee.
  • Email from Dendra Best, survey for Betsie River Access Site Assessment.


Approval March 15, 2017 minutes:

  • Motion to approve minutes from March 15, 2017 Regular Meeting with addition by Ronning, seconded by McPherson. Motion Carried.
    Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
    Nay: None
    Absent: None
  • Maintenance Report: Read by Jared Bair. Report on file with April 2017 minutes [NOTE: a copy has no thus far been received by Bear Lake News]
  • Treasurer’s Report: read by King. Report on file in the 2017 minutes binder.

    March Treasurer’s Report

    March 31, 2017 Statement Balance:
    Equipment Fund checking/savings total 3,270.67
    Honor Bank CD 26,009.55
    Minor Street checking/savings total 15,254.39
    Major Street checking/savings total 29,544.76
    Park checking/savings total 24,437.54
    Park CD#2 32,918.90
    Water checking only 3,128.82
    Money Market Account 10,053.97
    General checking/savings total 52,309.28

Motion to accept Treasurer’s by Ronning seconded by Bass, motion carried.
Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
Nay: none

  • Bills to be paid were read by Clerk.

Motion to pay the bills by McPherson, seconded by Schroeder. Motion carried.
Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
Nay: none

  • Reimbursements to the General Fund were read by President Bair. Total to General Fund: $3,019.90
  • Committee Chair Reports:

Park: Discussion on adding increasing pump out prices for campers. Currently $16

Motion to increase campers at Hopkins Park pump out service to $20 regular, $25 emergency by McPherson, seconded by Ronning. Motion carried.
Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
Nay: none

Discussion on lot price increase and surcharge to campers tabled until fall 2017.

Loss of two camp sites due to fire until clean-up is complete.

Trees: McPherson’s asked to plant a tree on village right of way between sidewalk & street, Smith & Main Streets.

Streets: Pot hole patch will begin the end of April. Some streets will be repaired during the water project.

Water: Bair commented, our water attorney is a little slow at getting needed paperwork for the water project.

Equipment: Bair reported he attended a Revenue Sharing (Little River Band) meeting in Manistee. Over $400K in grant money was submitted and $100+K in grant money will be given out. Money for dump truck & swim safety equipment were submitted for funding. USDA grant money for dump truck is open. 40/60 match.

Sidewalk: No report

Blight/CABA: Gibson gave a verbal report. Report on file in April’s minute folder. Gibson report on citation booklets and cost. He will order 2 booklets.

Village of Bear Lake Blight Enforcement Report April 19, 2017

  • 7667 Stuart St.
    • Talked to new owner. Frost law regulations lifted on 4-10, will be bringing in equipment to bulldoze and remove debris within a couple of weeks.
    • Plans to start construction of his garage as soon as the lot is cleard.
  • 12238 Virginia St.
    • No reply from owner to my last email.  Property believed to have gone for back taxes on March 31st.
  • 12273 Lynn St.
    • No new information at this time.
  • 12252 Maple St.
    • Inspected & photograph property.  Initial contact letter sent.
  • Blight Enforcement Tickets.
    • Received information from our attorney’s office.  Have contacted a company for information and price quote on tickets to be used when issuing a violation.

Respectfully submitted by, Larry J. Gibson
Blight Enforcement Officer

Bair reported he would like to start interview process for a Blight Hearing Officer. Qualifications; Experience in building trades and knowledge of building codes.

Planning Commission: Chairperson Barb Farfsing gave a report on Planning Commissions organizational meeting on April 18 at 2pm. Report on file in April’s minute’s folder. One additional member is needed. Must be a village resident who is registered to vote.

Village of Bear Lake Planning Commission
Organizational Meeting April 18, 2017

Village Hall
Unapproved Minutes

Organizational meeting called to order at 2:08pm by Village Council President Jeff Bair

Pledge of Allegiance was said by all.

Roll Call: Barb Farfsing, Cindi McPherson, Myrna Walter and Bill Beaver

Recognition of visitors: None

Reviewed By-Laws

Election of officers

Chairperson – Barb Farfsing

Vicechair – Bill Beaver

Secretary – Cindi McPherson

Motion was made by Beaver to accept the slate of officers for 2017, seconded by Farfsing. Motion carried

Yays – 4

Nays – 0

Set year meeting dates and time:

May 9, June 13, July 11, August 8, September 12 and October 10, 2017

Meeting time is 6pm. Meeting place will be the Village Hall.

Public Comments: None

Correspondence: None

Commissioners comments: Discussion on zoning

Next meeting; May 9, 2017 at Bear Lake Village Hall @ 6pm

Adjourned at 3:23pm

Respectfully submitted by Cindi McPherson

Manistee County Trail Committee Report: Clerk McPherson read emails from volunteer representative Dendra Best. Reports are on file in April minute’s folder. There was no meeting in April.

Ad Hoc – Policy, Resolution & Ordinance Committee – No report


  • Clerk McPherson asked council if they would prefer to re-accept a clean copy (without correction marks) of the Articles of Incorporation for the Sewer Projects. Council members agreed it was not necessary as long as there were no changes; there were not.
  • DeRidder Sewer update – Council member Bass wanted an update on where the DeRidder’s are with their sewer project. No update was available. [NOTE: completed under the jurisdiction of District #10 DHD Manistee County]


  • Motion to adopt a Resolution adopting the Articles of Incorporation of the Three Lakes Collaborative Sewer Authority by Ronning, seconded by Johnson. Motion carried.
    Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
    Nay: None [Note a copy has been requested]
  • Motion to appoint Jeff Bair as Sewer Representative per Sewer Resolution by Johnson, seconded by McPherson. Motion carried.
    Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
    Nay: None
  • Motion to accept the Resolution to Adjust Water Rates per Ordinance No. 2001-1 requested by the USDA by McPherson, seconded by Johnson. Motion carried. [Note a copy has been requested ]
    Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
    Nay: None
  • Motion to purchase a Welcome to Bear Lake banner to be hung on the Village Hall by Ronning, seconded by Evans. Motion carried.
    Aye: Bass, Evans, Johnson, McPherson, Ronning, Schroeder, Bair
    Nay: None
    Printed at the bottom of the banner “Village Office”.
    Bass also commented on interior signage for offices. Ideas of interior signage are being reviewed.
  • Ben Guerra & Chris Hardesty spoke on Medical Marijuana regarding dispensary/regulations on growing & selling marijuana in the village of Bear Lake. The Planning Commission will discuss. Concerns shared and discussion was held.


  • Pauline Jaquish, Manistee County Commissioner, gave a verbal update on Leckrone properties acquired in tax foreclosure and the burned down building (Odd Fellows Hall) is currently owned by Manistee County. The Odd Fellows Hall building was insurance by the county and the county will clean up the building site when it is released by the Fire Marshall.
  • Variety Store – is county owned and the county is getting bids on the building to demolish and remove. Bear Lake community may want to do a community fundraising project for funding.

    • Community Dinner this Thursday 5pm -7pm
    • Lake Improvement Board Meeting April 20 at 7pm at Bear Lake Township Hall
    • Village of Bear Lake Community Clean-Up day, June 24, 9am – 1pm
    • Bear Lake Promoters After Hour Event will take place on May 18, 2017 at 5-7pm at Bear Lake Hardware Design Center. Speakers will be landscape architects from Beckett & Raeder discussing the US 31 Corridor Plan.

Meeting adjourned at 8:40p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Cindi McPherson, Clerk



Major Street 3/01/2017 – 3/31/2017 $149.50

Minor Street 3/01/2017 – 3/31/2017 $162.50

Park Fund 3/01/2017 – 3/31/2017 $609.50

Water Fund 3/01/2017 – 3/31/2017 $390.00


Major Street $462.15

Minor Street $562.71

Park Fund $239.25

Water Fund $444.29

Bills To Be Paid

Date: April 19, 2017

Name | Amount|  Fund|  Account Notes

Jack Pine 25.00 Water Newsletter

50.97 General Toner

49.00 General Bus cards Blight

Mead & Hunt 1,141.10 Water Water test/sampling

Bittner/Jennings Attorney 61.43 Water Call w/ Ken

156.98 General FOIA

Auto Wares Group/ Auto 25.00 Major

Bear Lake Ace Hardware 110.93 Park Paint & supplies

Blarney Castle 1,063.20 Park Maint. Buildin

Young, Graham & Wendling 77.50 Water Water Rate Resol.

449.50 Park Joint Part kayak/canoe

325.50 General Sewer Authority

Staples 135.98 General office supplies

2003 Sewer Project – review of plans and decisions

For a review of decisions made by the Village of Bear Lake which culminated in the decision to withdraw due to cost – see Archived Minutes from 2000, 2001,  2002, 2003 and 2004.

To review the Preliminary Engineering Report – click here




“The total estimated project cost which the Bear Lake-Pleasanton Area Utilities Authority will be financing is $10.75 million. This is detailed in Table 19 and consists of the cost for collection, transmission, treatment and land cost associated with treatment.

4. Debt Retirement. Table 19 contains the estimated project cost of $10,750,000 for wastewater collection, transmission and treatment for facilities constructed by the Bear Lake- Pleasanton Area Utilities Authority. This estimated cost does not include a buy-in cost with the Village of Onekama, which will need to be negotiated between the Authority, the Village of Bear Lake and Rural Development.

An estimated payment schedule has been developed based upon a 40-year loan and an assumed interest rate of 4.5%. Under Rural Development guidelines, the area qualifies as an area of poverty with respect to median family income. Using the above project cost of $10. 75 million, the average monthly payment for debt retirement is $70.00 per month. This is based upon using 695 REUs to pay for the estimated $584,000 per year debt payment. This combined with the annual operation and maintenance monthly average payment of $10.5 per month produces a monthly average payment of $80.50 for debt retirement and operation and maintenance.”

Village of Bear Lake – Utility Authority November 3, 2003

As a result of the correspondence received recently by the BLP Utility Authority from USDA RD; the discussions with the Village Attorney; the consensus of the last Utility Authority Board meeting; and the comments made and actions taken at the October 2003 Bear Lake Township Meeting there are a number of questions and issues Council needs to come to a consensus on.

To recap:

June 2000: The Village pledged to pay $5000 as 1/3 cost of the Sewer Feasibility Study. At that time only a municipal sewer system was proposed although other treatment options were to be considered.

March 2001: Feasibility Study published.

April 2, 2001: The Feasibility Board showed a Balance on account of $2249.33

June 16 2001: Public Meeting.

On the basis of the Feasibility Study a figure of $37,5000 was proposed to fund a “Preliminary Engineering Study” which was supposed to consider a wider range of options and give a more in depth review of the demographics and volume of system that would be needed.

The only written request for funds was received in August, 2001 requesting 1/3 of $37,500 for funding the engineering study.

November 2001: Village approved payment of $2,5000.00

The Feasibility Board was formed under Urban Cooperation Act of 1967, as contained in MCL 124.501, et seq. which would have allowed the Board to apply for storm water control funding in addition to water systems and sanitary collection and treatment.

In April of 2002 that agreement was extended for another 12 months forming the BLPL Sewer Board. (But the agreement only authorized a payment of $5000 per entity, both in the original and in the extension.)

July 13, 2002 the Village Paid $5000.00

In 2002 the 2 Townships began negotiations to change the scope of the project to send treatment and collection to the Village of Onekama rather than build our own treatment facility. USDA RD indicated that might increase the likelihood of funding.

April 14, 2003: The Village paid $5000 to complete our requested funds,$12,500.00.

Under pressure from the 2 Townships the Village agreed to sign the new agreement to form the Bear Lake Pleasanton Area Utilities Authority – not signing would have effectively removed the Village from further participation in sewer/sanitation planning.

The new agreement was drafted under the MUNICIPAL SEWAGE AND WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS Act 233 of 1955 which specifically designates funding and excludes funding for storm water control.

Glen Moore and Dendra Best were appointed to be the Village Board members with Carol Urbanus as our alternate. (Neither of the Townships have appointed an alternate member to this point.)

Following the first meeting of the BLPAUA a report was sent to Council relaying your representatives concerns and areas where there were points that needed clarification. (See the Village web site: reports are attached to the Minutes.)

Chief among them was the question of whether there were outstanding bills from the previous Board – we were told there were none.

Secondly was the issue of what stage the BLPAUA application process at to USDA RD was – we were concerned that no contract be signed or approved until we had received the Preliminary Engineering Report from Prein Newhoff and had had time to consider the projects potential impact on the community.

A draft of the Preliminary Report was received in April and Council had serious concerns that it seemed to merely repeat the information contained in the Feasibility Study with the same errors in listing the demographics plus financial errors in listing the newly increased costs and scope of rerouting the collection and treatment to the Village of Onekama.

No other options were presented for consideration in this Report. We also had serious concerns about a) the assumptions made for ‘zero growth’ ; and b) the impact on groundwater in light of our delineated Wellhead Protection area. The proposed irrigation field comes within 6/10 of a mile of the wellhead catchment and there is insufficient data to satisfy us this will not present a future pollution source.

The Final format of the Preliminary Report was received within the week without any of the requested changes being made – but a response from Prein NEwhof indicated our points of concern would be sent on to USDA RD.

The Final Report included an extension of the service area south on US31, which was added after the fact.

The Village of Onekama now has an official ‘option to purchase’ the Bear Lake Township Supervisor’s property, on Linderman and 11 Mile Road, on which they intend to construct their, and potentially our, irrigation.

At several meetings we have asked on the status of the ‘application’ – has one been made or not? It appears from the response from USDA RD that the preliminary application was sent in on May 7. The BLPAUA met on May 21 and did not approve that action until that time. We believed we were seeking a provisional opinion only.

Council requested our Attorney review the 2 contracts being presented for approval – presented as being a precursor to any application. On his advice we requested additional language be included in both the contract for legal and engineering services. We also asked that no contract be awarded without a formal bidding process. Attorney Wilson asked for and was awarded the contract for legal services. It was our understanding that his contract did not come into effect until we accepted a USDA RD award.

The Preliminary Engineering Report speculated that the monthly fee ( including construction and debt repayment costs) would be @$80 per month for a single family dwelling, or REU (residential equivalency unit) That figure would be multiplied for larger units such as the schoool or reataurants based on a USDA RD formula,

HOWEVER – the Report also noted several areas where there would be additional costs which could not be estimated – chief among them being additional legal fees, and a ‘buy-in’ per month cost to be levied by the Village of Onekama for operating collection and treatment at their facility on our behalf – the figure stated by them was $21.67 per month in addition to the proposed $80.

It should also be noted that the debt repayment cost is for the maximum of 40 years and interest rate was estimated at poverty rate of 4.5% – and that monthly sewer bills would be sent out whether a resident was here for 3 or 12 months.

The Village has consistently requested a full projected Budget be prepared for us to adopt, as is required under the Articles of Incorporation of the BLPAUA.

Act 233 states: 124.293 Authorization to raise or pay money for administrative expenses or other purposes; direct taxing power.

Sec. 13.

The legislative body of each municipality which is a member of the authority is authorized to raise by tax or pay from its general funds, any money required to be paid by the articles of incorporation for administrative expenses or for the purpose of obtaining maps, plans, designs, specifications, and cost estimates of a proposed sewage disposal system, water supply system, or waste management system. The authority shall not have direct taxing power.

Neither of the 2 Townships has adopted such a budget, merely agreeing to pay $6,1000 to the Utility Authority. Under both the General Law Village Act and Uniform Accounting Standards the Village may not amend its operating budget capriciously. As we have not been asked to allocate additional funds none were included as a line item in our FY2002/3 or FY2003/4 Budgets.

Council approved a letter to be sent to Bear Lake Township Clerk and presented to the BLPAUA Board stating our legal position.

The BLPAUA declined to prepare or adopt a full line item budget – deciding instead to merely present a 3 line item request for legal, admin and general engineering costs. Glen and Dendra voted to present this Budget for Council to consider but it was our advice that Council reject it as inadequate.

A request was sent to the Village for a payment of $6,100.00 to cover (in conjunction with an equal payment from the 2 Townships) the outstanding bills, plus Attorney Wilson’s projected services for the coming FY, plus an additional amount to cover projected Engineering costs.

Upon learning that Prein Newhoff and Attorney Wilson had outstanding invoices Council requested copies of all invoices paid by Bear Lake Township toward both the Feasibility Board and the Sewer Board. An itemized listing was given to Council at its October meeting. It should be noted that Bear Lake Township charged a 25 center per sheet copying fee for allowing us access to the bills we were being asked to pay.

It is our contention a 3 line Budget does not meet the test for government accounting standards. In addition the Village net revenue cannot accommodate unlimited additional requests for money for over-extended expenditures of the Utility Authority. We need to know in advance. The UA seems willing to amend their ‘budget’ as and when they need to.

The additional concern is that, as Village residents pay tax to both the general fund of the Village and Township, Village residents are bearing an unfair proportion of the total fees.

We are insisting that proper fiscal controls be put in place to control costs and return responsibility for Authority activities to the Authority Board. It is our belief that if such fiscal controls had been in place the level of unauthorized expenses would have been properly curtailed or at least pre-approved.

October 2003 USDA RD Proposal:

It appears that an official application was sent to USDA RD for consideration, limiting the project to be considered solely to a joint facility with the Village of Onekama – an expansion of the original project which explains why the cost of the project has risen consistently since 2001. There is a substantial increase in the scope of construction, transmission and treatment, and hence legal and admin expenses, which are a fee based on a % of the total.

The characterization that the cost has increased because of delaying tactics by the Village is both erroneous, discourteous and inflammatory.

We have consistently asked that this project be held to accountable standards and that it be accountable to the tax paying public. It should be remembered that Village residents are being asked, in effect to pay 3 times, in Village, Township AND Federal tax dollars.

The terms of the letter from USDA RD were read into the October Minutes of the Council Meeting. Upon realization that the terms were at a higher interest rate than 4.5%, plus that the ratio of loan to grant money would place an unacceptable burden on residents of the Village, Council voted by unanimous motion to respectfully decline the offer as presented.

Council did not intend that to be construed as a total withdrawal from the BLPAUA but merely that the terms and the project as presented, in our considered opinion, were unacceptable to Village residents.

It was also noted, in the correspondence from USDA RD, that they had the same doubts about specific assumptions and generalization made in the Preliminary Engineering Report as we had expressed in May to Prein Newhoff. USDA RD also questioned how the engineering fees had been calculated and expressly stated that the Report as presented had not documented definitive data showing ‘need for the project’.

These matters, plus the receipt of the Environmental Report were discussed at the last Utility Authority meeting.

Specifically it should be noted that within the Environmental Report is a letter questioning the capacity of the soils in the proposed irrigation area to accommodate the volume of liquid without significant drainage to the aquifer and speculates that this may result in contamination of area drinking water wells.

Council may recall we sent the same concerns in a letter following the publication of the Wade Trim Environmental Report for the Village of Onekama’s part of this project earlier this year. We have formally asked for a copy of the results of the hydrology studies being done on the property. It should also be noted that an area of high ground water pollution has been documented to the south east corner of the proposed irrigation field caused by dumping of PCA sludge.

A proposed course of alternate action:

It is appropriate to restate here the fact that it is the Village which has gone out of its way to keep the public informed about this project. We published an information newsletter prior to the first Public hearing; we published the Feasibility Study on our web site; we have also kept the public informed about our questions and concerns of the administration and design of the system; we published the Preliminary Engineering Report in total on our web site where over 800 people have read it.

And now we offer our suggested retooling of this project.

In view of the figures being quoted, the considerable gaps in projected expenses, the repeated advice from USDA RD themselves in their letter that funding MAY only be available in 18 months, in view of a realistic appreciation of the income levels, and publicly voiced opposition, of our residents, (both Township AND village) we offer an alternate path.

Begin by granting the Village’s share of payment of per diem expenses of our Representatives, plus $1000 toward the additional legal fees, while recognizing that we did not approve those fees. = $3.020.00

Mandate that no additional fees shall be incurred while we proceed to further investigation of alternative options.

It needs be restated here WHY we began this research, consideration and planning of how best to protect the groundwater and public health of our community in the first place.

* We are a community with the ‘potential’ for growth.

* Many of our single family homes within the Village are 3 bedroom homes occupied by single older adults or currently have no children present.

* All our homes are within close proximity to our neighbors.

* ALL our streets flow downhill to the Lake. The Lake is our chief cultural, environmental and economic asset.

In the Village our municipal drinking water supply is protected and monitored stringently. HOWEVER, we and our neighbors are dependent on the same underground aquifer – we know from our Wellhead Protection report that within 40 years we will be drinking the water that came into the aquifer today.

We have no accurate documentation of the age and condition of current onsite septic systems and drain fields. We know it is good policy to have a septic tank pumped every 2-3 years but how many residents actually do that?

We know it is a dangerous and bad practice to put man made chemicals into a septic tank and drain field but we all do that every day. When we talk about groundwater contamination from septic tanks and drain field, it is as important to consider chemical pollutants as it is human wastes and gray water.

Human waste degrades naturally, high concentrations of chemicals do not. We have only to remember the devastating consequences of the PCA sludge dumping and other toxic spills in our area to realize the seriousness of ground water contamination. A single failing septic system may seem trivial – but multiply that by how many individual systems we have in the Village. One individual may be a conscientious home or business owner – but is it fair to them if their neighbor is not?

The Village storm water control system is outdated and simply does NOT work. Unfortunately, by reforming the BLPAUA under Public Act 533 we cut off our source of funding for bonding to rebuild or redesign that storm water control system.

In the 3 years we have been on this journey, technology and DEQ regulations have changed. Solutions which may not have seemed viable in 2000 are eminently viable today.

We agree with USDA RD. Apocryphal, anecdotal statements will not do.

We simply have not done enough groundwork to document the need for a full-blown  municipal sewer system, Moreover, to build such a high cost civil engineering project requires far more resources than this community is currently able or willing to devote or envision.

HOWEVER- doing nothing is NOT an option. If the sewer is the ‘Cadillac’ option – what can be done to protect the groundwater and the public health without subjecting ourselves to a debt of $11.5 – $14M for the next 40 years?

We ask Council to consider returning this challenge and responsibility to the individual. Are we, as a community, prepared to police ourselves?

1) Accept that we are all in this together and eliminate the ‘us and them’ finger pointing. The Village has maintained an informed and professional approach to this issue – we should continue that way. A fouled lake is a fouled lake whether you live on its shores or in the Village. An overflowing septic system stinks whether you are a lakefront property owner or live on Maple Street. At the moment the Lake is NOT polluted – what are we, the community as a whole, going to do to prevent that from happening?

2.) Begin preparing a mandatory septic system monitoring program – look for funding to install small data loggers in every septic tank to document which are working and which are not. Run them for a full 4 seasons to get a real life picture of how this community changes in composition throughout the year.

3) Adopt an ordinance to require a mandatory inspection and pumping of septics every 3 years. Include testing to see if the drain field is saturated and needs to be replaced.

4.) During the year of data logging, look for sources of funding to establish a loan/grant program to help people who simply can’t afford to replace their aging septics.

5) Adopt the same regulations covering septic installation as are currently in use elsewhere – which require gradual increase of filtration devices on existing septic systems in direct relationship to how close your property is to the water front or to the water table.

6) Look at the option of installation of small ‘community’ treatment systems, whereby a street or a block of property could use a central collection point, treatments and drain field. This would specifically benefit downtown business development.

7) Explore the option of contracting with a private entity to build, operate and maintain an central treatment facility as a public/private utility – or contract with the Village of Onekama to accept and treat the contents of mandatory emptying of current septic tanks. This is already being done by other small communities such as ours – why not here? Admit we simply don’t have the personnel and sophisticated expertise to ‘hand hold’ a project of this magnitude but also recognize that leaving it to others to make our decisions for us doesn’t always give the result we were anticipating.

8) Form a community ad hoc advisory committee to do GIS mapping of who lives here now and what the actual current and potential volume of usage is. (Which is what we all thought would be the result of the Preliminary Engineering Study.)

10) Consider reforming the BLPAUA under a return to the Urban Cooperative Act and allow all 3 units of government to explore ways to control run off storm water pollution as well as seek funding for sanitary systems and treatment.

11) In short, our proposal is to respect what we have learned, not blast it as an utter waste of effort – but rather look at it as finding out what we CAN’T do – which now gives us an incentive to go back to the drawing board to find a better way, one that our community can live with economically and will sign on to as plain common sense.

We may not be able to afford our ‘Cadillac’ in this year 2003, but in 2008 or 9, who knows what the economic climate may be?

If we can get the job done within the next 3 years by putting in place a perfectly workable protection plan based on inspection, regulation of compliance and making onsite replacement resources available to anyone – isn’t that a more fair and equitable solution?

Isn’t the bottom line to make sure we all follow the same rules and practice plain common sense?

The argument is that one sewer system is better than 300 points of potential contamination, but what if we could take simple steps to ensure that the vast majority of those 300 systems were up to date, in compliance and working properly?

We are suggesting a more practical and pragmatic solution, one that we can put in place today, one that will protect our community without bankrupting us, and one that treats everyone, regardless of personal wealth or property value or location, equally.


Dendra Best.

Glen Moore.

December 12, 2003