A group of Walled Lake residents are determined to dissolve the Walled Lake Improvement Board by appealing to city officials for a recount of signed petitions.
During a June Walled Lake City Council meeting, the group strongly urged the city’s governing body to schedule a public hearing, a stepping stone to quash the lake improvement board.
Some riparian and backlot property owners have voiced opposition not only to paying special assessment fees to pay for the lake improvement board’s aquatic weed management plan, but also the methods by which the lake would be treated after engineering consultants recommended a mix of herbicide and harvesting methods to eradicate invasive weeds.
After months of public hearings and discussion, a special assessment district (SAD) was approved in June 2010.
According to state statute, the lake improvement board can be dismantled if the governing body of each local unit of government in which all or part of the lake is located — in this case, Walled Lake and Novi — holds a public hearing on the proposed dissolution, determines that the lake board is no longer necessary for the improvement of the lake because the reasons for the establishment of the lake board no longer exist, and approves the dissolution of the lake board; or if two-thirds of the free holders who own land abutting the lake agree to disband it.
If the board is dissolved, it can still assess property owners for any costs incurred to date.
Walled Lake resident Steven Loe drafted a letter to the Walled Lake City Council stating that he has collected over 557 signatures from those who want the lake improvement board dissolved, stating the board’s methods have been “misguided.”
The signatures have not been verified.
Lakes Area Homeowners Association President Gerry Anderson refutes Loe’s claims that most of Walled Lake’s riparian and backlot property owners don’t support the lake improvement board.
“We have 90 families that belong to the association and the consensus is that we are very much in favor of the lake board’s actions,” he said. “This small group is presenting false information to citizens and using scare tactics.”
“We’ve had three professional studies that show a weed problem exists and the treatments are FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and DNR (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) approved, so it’s beyond safe-guarded,” Anderson said.
Loe stated that both Novi and Walled Lake residents have reversed their stance on the lake board’s formation, adding that many didn’t understand the SAD nor weed treatment ramifications.
However, the lake board conducted a number of public hearings prior to setting an assessment roll and presented information for public purview.
“They held between six and eight hearings for 1.5 years and also invited the lake board and both city councils to address specific questions,” said Walled Lake City Councilman Casey Ambrose.
The Walled Lake council took action on June 7 to have the lake board dissolution petitions reviewed and verified by both Walled Lake and Novi clerks, along with Walled Lake’s city attorney, Vahan Vanerian, to determine if there is a two-thirds majority, the percentage needed to disband the lake board without action by the two city councils.
Vanerian noted that in order to dissolve the lake board, both communities would have to go through the process; One community cannot do it on its own.
However, at present, it doesn’t appear as though Novi would consider disbanding the lake improvement board.
“We seem to have good support by Novi council and we keep them apprised,” Lake Board Chairman Dave Galloway said. “I’ve heard nothing contrary.”
Lake treatments began June 1, with a second treatment applied on Wednesday, June 29.
Loe couldn’t be reached for comment prior to press time.