The Board meeting began on a bright note.  Public Safety Director William Wagner announced that the Fire Department had been notified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that Northfield Township and five or six co-applicant Fire Departments had been awarded a $275,000.00 grant to buy new protective Turnout Gear.  From Boots to Helmet, every fireman/person will receive new gear.  [Bunker Gear- Wikipedia, History of Turnout Gear, The Helmet]

Agenda Item 2: An easement across the 120 foot wide lawn at 365 Barker Road, for which the Township will be paying $10,000, has at long last been obtained for the Barker Road non-motorized path.  Manager Fink has asked that Construction for the non-motorized path be submitted for bidding, despite 2 of the required permanent easements remaining unacquired.  He said that if the other easements are acquired, revisions to the plans will necessitate change orders and changed costs.

Agenda Item 4: Encroachments and other issues continue to plague the Van Curler title process.  Several times tonight Manager Fink tossed around the term, "prescriptive easements," to describe the state of the Van Curler property inadvertently fenced in by neighboring property owners.  I have no idea what a prescriptive easement is and apparently, neither does Mr. Fink.  Tonight Trustee Tracy Thomas, a real attorney, pointed out that the encroachments were very likely much older than the 15 years required under Michigan Law for achieve a state of adverse possession, commonly called squatter's rights.

Thomas: "I'm putting my lawyer hat on.  It's not a prescriptive easement; it's adverse possession and I'm almost 100% certain that fifteen years has in fact passed and the township doesn't have any rights to ask anybody to move those fences.  Based on what I'm looking at, I'm still gonna vote in favor to close, because we're talking about such a small level of encroachment, but there's really no percentage in us trying to assert ownership over these encroachments.  That bus has left.  However it might be a good idea, with regard to, as you get closer to the lake, we may approach that property owner and simply ask, and say, "we would like you to consider being a good citizen of the township and perhaps moving your fence or relocating your fence."  But if we're talking about what to do about the encroachments, there isn't much to do.  It's either close or don't close and understand that we don't own that land."

Getting back a few feet would make a difference in the size of the public beach on the quarter acre piece of land Trustee Dockett once pointedly called, "That Little Sliver on the Lake".   Unfortunately, none of the encroachments seem to be in that lakeside parcel.

On Sunday, October 23rd, the Downtown Planning Group will host a Van Curler ribbon cutting ceremony.  Pumpkin decorating, the Whitmore Lake High School band, and Kiwanis Hot Dogs are among the planned festivities.

The Washtenaw County Drain Commission has revised the Scadin Lake and Branch drainage district on the western border of Northfield Township, slightly raising the Township's costs from the current $502.77/year.  You can ask the Drain Commission why they're doing this at a September 14th Day of Review at their Zeeb Road offices.  Where's a Jake Gittes when you need him?

Discussion Item 2:  Salem Township has asked the Northfield join with Ann Arbor Township in funding an engineering study of a non-motorized path that will connect northern Ann Arbor to the Salem/South Lyon area.  OHM Engineer Jacob Rushlow provided the Board with some details about the standards of separation between highways and non-motorized paths.  This path would be part of a much larger regional and statewide trail system.  We will post our collection of instate trail maps and information later this week.  Fink guestimated the cost of such a path at $8 to $10 million, which he assured the Board would be paid for by grants.  He said the project would never be funded without a preliminary study. 

Discussion Item 1: Manager Fink proposed that Northfield Township fund studying the feasibility of a trail around Whitmore Lake and perhaps some other trails through the Township.   He said that an Engineering firm instead of a Planning Consultant should to the study, snubbing our latest Planning Consultant. 

 Also, the Washtenaw County Water Resources department will be giving away some dig-it-yourself Switchgrass on Thursday, September 15th:

Help us dig out some switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the rain garden near the entrance to the Veteran's Park Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. We will be re-planting the rain garden with shorter plants and trees. Bring a shovel and something to put your plant in. Feel free to come anytime during the day on Thursday and take any of the plants that have orange flagging tape around them. If you would like a switchgrass, and can't come on Thursday, email Catie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to make arrangements. Switchgrass can grow to 4-6' tall and needs sunshine. It can grow in wet or dry areas.

Be forewarned.  Switchgrass, made famous as a source of cellulose to produce ethanol, does well in sandy soils.  At the September 7th Planning Commission meeting we were reliably informed that sandy soils are considered undesirable for farming, at least by suburban experts.  That's something to think about the next time you eat a mouthful of fresh blueberries from a sandy soiled, Western Michigan blueberry farm, a forkful of asparagus from one of Western Michigan's many sandy soiled Asparagus farms, or bite into a fresh strawberry from a sandy soiled Western Michigan strawberry farm.