by David GordondirtRoadPotholes 2017 05 02 350w

Local roads in Northfield Township will not be getting better anytime soon, according to a Washtenaw County Road Commission report presented to the Board of Trustees at their April 25 meeting.

“We have only enough money to fill some of the potholes” began WCRC Managing Director Roy Townsend as he painted a grim picture of road financing in Michigan and our township.  (link to the WCRC 2017 report)

According to Townsend, Northfield has about 40 miles of roads which need serious upgrading that would cost $100,000/mile or $4M. Last year, our township spent $108,000 on local road maintenance.

There are 14 local road projects on the WCRC drawing board for Northfield, said WCRC District Project Manager Mike Mastie, but the total cost would be $2,226,000 and Northfield would need to pay half.

Townsend noted that Northfield’s spending for roads is near the bottom in the county. He outlined several financing options that other communities use to fund road repairs such as millages or Special Assessment Districts. (link to “Funding Local Road Improvements” and “Township Contribution Summary” from WCR report).

On average between 2012-2016, Northfield contributed $10.89/capita. Only Lyndon Township spent less: $10.45/capita. The top three communities in road funding are Salem ($97.68), Saline ($72.26) and Scio ($66.44).

Trustees Tawn Beliger and Wayne Dockett both accused the road commission of wasting money. Beliger added: “Taxes don’t fix roads”.   Townsend then pointed out that repairs this year on East Shore Drive were being done because of a tax millage passed last year.

Regarding the work being done on US23, Townsend that the Michigan DOT does not set aside extra funds to help maintain local roads that are degraded due to the extra traffic trying to avoid the highway construction.

General “spot improvements” plus brine applications to reduce dust again will be the attention dirt roads get this year, he said. Northfield spends $32,000 for each of the two brine applications per year even though Townsend said brine is not particularly effective on dirt roads. Resident Bruce Bell later questioned the sense of spending the $64,000.

The Board must provide a priority list of road “spots” for maintenance by May 19, and Supervisor Marlene Chockley asked the Trustees and members of the public to make specific recommendations. 

In other matters:

  • The Board approved the job description for the manager position. Treasurer Lenore Zelenock insisted that language be added instructing the manager to “Implement the Master Plan”. Trustees Jacki Otto and Janet Chick objected, claiming that “it goes without saying,” which brought guffaws from the residents in attendance. The previous manager, Howard Fink, was never instructed to respect the Master Plan and as a result embroiled the township in a two-year fight.
  • About 40 people have applied for the manager post. The Board will hold a “Special Meeting” next week to decide criteria and create a process for making a selection.   The Board also has not created any process for evaluating the manager’s performance.

             Otto's proposed Township Manager's job description

  • The six-year, $445,000 weed control project for Whitmore Lake was approved. The program, which is funded by lake property owners, has been ongoing since 2003.
  • The Board hired a new controller, Ms. Yvette Patrick, who will begin May 15 or sooner.
  • Little Porky’s retracted it’s application for a packaged liquor license. State law requires license holders be a minimum of ½ mile from one another, and Little Porky’s is within ½ mile of Polly’s Market, which holds the only package license in the township.
  • Clerk Kathy Manley reminded voters in the Ann Arbor School District that a special election is being held May 2.
  • Chockley said the Downtown Planning Group and the Downtown Development Authority will be holding joint workshops and focus groups to involve residents in their strategic planning efforts. Dates TBD.
  • Otto said the local Kiwanis is holding a golf outing fundraiser on May 13 at Rolling Meadows Golf Course. 
  • Chick "clarified" that the Planning Commission, on which she is the Board liaison, did not recommend the Downtown Planning Group “synthesis plan” for the North Village project on the former Van Curler property surrounding the Post Office on Main Street. She said the PC urges further public input as a means of finalizing a plan from among the several suggested. 


Meeting Documents:

We break the packet into component documents, converted as necessary to searchable text.  As a bonus, in addition to making everything ridiculously easier to find, it saves you money.  Those people on limited internet plans or speeds save about 33%.