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April 19, 2018 5:24 pm

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Douglas Officials Change Street Ordinance To Avoid Special Assessment District Issues


        There are certain situations—such as unstable retaining walls on private property with a risk of collapse into the public-right-of-way, or knocked over trees situated on private property as well as public-right-of-ways—where an alternative to the formal special assessment provisions could be useful, say Douglas city officials in reference to the changes to the city’s street ordinance approved Monday.
        Government units charge special assessments against real estate parcels for certain public projects in a certain geographical area, known as a special assessment district.
        “A special assessment entails a lot of bureaucracy; there are several steps: engineering studies, public notifications, several meetings with property owners, formal bids, etc.,” noted Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere.
        “This addition to the ordinance gives us a mechanism to directly work with property owners where there is a benefit for both them and the city without the need of a special assessment. The property owners will be able to use the city as a vehicle to streamline the process (of fixing problems).”
        Under the rubric of “construction by agreement,” the amendment states, in part, “The city council may, when requested by any property owner, construct, change, or repair any street or appurtenance abutting their property upon the terms and conditions as agreed upon by the property owner and the city council without setting up a special assessment district.”
        The new rule was instigated by a situation confronting a property owner on Lakeshore Drive, said LeFevere.
        Its language was directly appropriated from language already found for sidewalks in the city’s ordinance book.
        Now the rule is applicable to the broader category of streets.
        In other city business, LeFevere announced the iconic Root Beer Barrel project will have to wait for its new public debut until spring 2016, and not this fall as was previously reported by the city.
        The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society, in charge of rehabbing the barrel from the prepared slabs and readying the barrel’s foundation, is not quite ready to proceed, LeFevere explained.  
        With concrete work, lighting and other items, city officials estimate the barrel will cost about $9,000 to install and about $1,000 a year to maintain, according Lefevere.

Douglas Officials Change Street Ordinance To Avoid Special Assessment District Issues

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