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June 16, 2019 6:33 am

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Douglas Water District Issues Still Under Review By City Officials

Douglas City Council did not take action following a closed session meeting at city hall, occurring right before the regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, when the met to discuss Douglas City Attorney Rhonda Stowers’ (of Plunkett Cooney)’ legal opinion on some residents’ challenges and legal questions over the proposed three water main special assessment districts.

A handful of taxpayers within the districts have protested the city’s plan saying they really don’t see the need for water main improvements as their water supply and pressure are operating just fine.

Some residents have even suggested legally challenging the city’s special assessment before the Michigan Tax Tribunal, a factor that prompted city staff to seek legal counsel on the matter.

Stowers’ legal opinion on the matter—which was, again, the content of Mondays’ executive session— is not yet ready to be released for public review, Douglas city officials told The Local Observer Tuesday after a reporter requested a copy.

The project for all three districts is estimated to cost a total of $545,000. The city is proposing to pay some of that and taxpayers are expected to pay more than half of the cost. Depending on location, some districts will pay more than others.

Douglas City Engineer Brian Vilmont (of Prein & Newhof) has consistently contended the water supply system does indeed need upgrading in order to be up to acceptable standards, especially the need to address “spaghetti lines,” multiple homes sharing a public water line through backyard or side yard connections and not directly and individually connected to the water main.

The special assessment districts themselves were part of Monday’s agenda as action items.

The council voted to table the issue citing several reasons, including some issues of which city officials have discussed at previous meetings.

Prompted by the concerns of residents, legal and otherwise, Douglas leaders say they want to make sure the city proceeds with thoroughness.

“The city engineer will be looking at the homes with the spaghetti problems; council wanted to make sure that those homes that are affected by spaghetti line issues are precisely identified,” Douglas City Clerk Jean Neve told the newspaper.

Douglas officials also want the Saugatuck Township Fire District to review the city’s plan as it relates to water safety and water pressure.

The proposed assessment districts are Whittier-First District (Whittier Street starting at its intersection with Center Street going south to First Street and proceeding west on First Street to its intersection with May Avenue) and the McVea District (McVea Drive starting at its intersection with Campbell Road and going south on McVea Drive to its southern intersection with Westshore Golf Course Redevelopment.

Douglas Water District Issues Still Under Review By City Officials

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