KLSWA Denies Douglas' Request To Change Utility Designation At Commerce Park
Douglas city taxpayers could disproportionally be contributing to the cost of the water and sanitary sewer systems of a proposed development - the Southgate Commerce Park - in Saugatuck Township, according to a report by Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere during Monday’s council meeting.
Approved years ago by the Saugatuck Township Board, the proposed Southgate is located at the east side of the Blue Star Highway by exit 36 within the township.
It is adjacent to the Douglas boundary and it shares public water and sanitary sewer lines, points out LeFevere.
“In the 2012 sewer agreement (Sewer System Operation Contract) it says that when two or more municipalities share pipes, this changes the designation from Local Collection System to Common System,” said LeFevere.
The Kalamazoo Lake Sewer & Water Authority Board (KLSWA), with representatives from Douglas, Saugatuck, and the township, recently approved the township’s request to add Southgate Commerce Park water and sewer utilities into the public system.
LeFevere said he wanted that new connection to be part of—and reflect the provisions of—the 2012 sewer agreement and common system.
By doing so, he noted, it would put into legal form that the water and sewer lines that Douglas and the township share, via the connections at Southgate Commerce Park, be equally paid for among constituent members (the future maintenance, repairs, and replacements of those utilities).
The language in LeFevere’s motion at Monday’s KLSWA Board meeting called for Southgate to be added under “common” designation, but the board turned it down in a 3-to-2 vote.
The two affirmative votes came from himself and the other Douglas representative on the KLSWA Board, Martha Hoexter.
The board is comprised of two members from Saugatuck, two from Douglas, and one from the township.
Essentially, LeFevere contended, the vote against putting Southgate’s water and sanitary sewer system under the Common System renders the future utility cost there unfair towards Douglas.
KLSWA Board President and Saugatuck City Council Member Mark Bekken, who voted against LeFevere’s measure, was not available Wednesday for comment
And Saugatuck Township Manager and KLSWA Board Member Aaron Sheridan declined to comment as to why he voted against LeFevere’s motion.
Meanwhile, Hoexter noted that controversy about public water and sewer hookups at or near boundaries between two or more municipalities is not new.
“Other times it’s been with the City of Saugatuck about who does what and who controls or pays for what is at a boundary,” she said.