2008-03-13 / Front Page

Brevort Twp. To Decide on Fire Hall, Accepts Master Plan

By Paul Gingras

The Brevort Township Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting to decide what to do with two township-owned parcels, one on M-123, and a second on Church Street in Moran, after it receives information from builders and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), reported Brevort Township Supervisor Ed Serwach at the Tuesday, March 4, meeting of the township board.

A basic site drawing of the parcel on M-123, by R.S. Scott and Associates, has been received favorably by the Michigan Department of Transportation, said Mr. Serwach, who spoke with Ron Rushton, a permit agent for MDOT in Newberry.

MDOT's approval is required because alterations in M-123 over time have located the department's right of way on land owned by the township, making building there without permission illegal, Mr. Serwach explained.

The department is likely to abandon its right of way and allow for a municipal structure, the township has been told.

MDOT's final consideration will be how driveway traffic will enter M-123, Mr. Serwach said. MDOT will require new plans for a commercial enterprise, if the township chooses to sell the land to a potential business developer, he added.

A second piece of property is also under consideration as the site for a new fire hall.

Since the topic was discussed last month, Mr. Serwach met with Wade Huskey of Art Huskey and Sons Excavating of St. Ignace, to assess the possibility of building a fire hall on a sizable, but low-lying lot owned by the township on Church Street.

Mr. Huskey suggested the township fill in a portion of the property for a new fire hall, or to avoid rising costs, the township could fill in the entire lot for future development, Mr. Serwach said.

Following a lengthy debate at a special meeting Saturday, March 1, the township voted 3-1 to contract with the Mackinac County Road Commission for a double chip-and-seal surface on 1.4 miles of Black Point Road. The cost of the project will be $97,000, most of which will be paid for by the federal government. The township's portion will be $9,400. The project will begin this summer.

Mr. Serwach was the dissenting vote. He advocated an asphalt surface instead.

Trustee Burt Rutledge was absent from the meeting and did not vote. The township could have paved 0.62 miles of the road for $101,000, most of which would be paid by the federal government, the township's portion being $13,150, Mr. Serwach pointed out.

In recent meetings, township residents advised the board that chip-and-seal surfacing would not hold up under the volume of traffic the road receives.

Trustee Vern Erskine said that the 1.4 miles approved would be a good test strip, to see if chip and seal will work in the long run.

At the request of Treasurer Dan Litzner, Mr. Serwach asked the road commission regarding the type of chip and seal used on M-123, which township residents noted seems to be much stronger and harder than chip and seal used on side roads. Road Commission Manager Karrie Abbitt agreed to investigate the difference, Mr. Serwach said.

The Brevort Township Community Foundation has declined to change its name, despite the township board's concerns that the organization is perceived as an arm of the local government.

The nonprofit group was started by Kirk and Julie Lipnitz to promote activities in the township, most recently ice fishing tournaments and fireworks displays.

"It is not a wing of the government; it is a private entity that raises funds for the promotion of the township," Mr. Lipnitz told The St. Ignace News.

Following receipt of several phone calls from concerned citizens, Mr. Serwach announced that the notice of assessment that residents have received in the mail is not a tax bill.

He emphasized that the change in taxable value number on the form does not represent the dollar amount of a raise in taxes.

The annual increase in property taxes can be raised by no more than 5% each year, or the inflation rate as defined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is lower. This year, taxes will rise by 2.3%, Mr. Serwach said.

This is a much smaller number than the change in taxable value number, he added.

The township board approved a draft of its revised master plan, which will now be distributed to neighboring municipalities for review. The plan defines how the township would like to develop in coming years, and is used for township zoning.

The plan left out a small portion of the Ozark area, Mr. Erskine noted.

Most of the Ozark area is in Moran Township, with four homes in Brevort Township.

Wade-Trim of Gaylord assisted the planning commission with the document. It has estimated it will cost the township $10,000 to update its zoning ordinance.

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