Burton View

Board considers SADs as last resort for funding road work

GRAND BLANC TWP. — The Grand Blanc Township Board of Trustees is considering a policy change that would allow the board to initiate special assessment districts to finance repairs to subdivision roads.

The Genesee County Road Commission maintains jurisdiction over most roads within the township.

Under the current policy, to initiate repairs to a secondary road, at least 51 percent of the affected residents must sign petitions supporting the work, and those residents must pay for it.

Jeffrey Sears, the township’s director of Public Services, said he has had an influx of calls from residents since May when representatives from the road commission attended a board meeting and explained the process for initiating road repairs.

The problem, Sears said, is that “we do not have a core group of residents in any subdivision willing to put in the time and effort to circulate a petition.”

“There are just no residents stepping up to do that,” he said.

In addition, the township has some subdivisions where deteriorating road conditions are creating a public safety concern, Sears said.

He recommended the board consider imposing SADs “just where we have big issues.”

The board likely would use a Pavement Surface Evaluation & Rating (PASER) score to determine which neighborhoods potentially would be subject to SADs. The road commission would conduct the PASER evaluation.

Sears said he already knows that some subdivision roads have a PASER rating of 2 (poor) on a scale of 1 to 10.

Township Supervisor Scott Bennett estimated that more than half of the subdivision streets are “poor or lower.”

“We have plenty of 1s and 2s that absolutely need to have this done,” Bennett said, adding that improving the roads will not only mitigate hazards but also increase property values and reflect well on the entirety of the township.

Residents would still have the option of petitioning for road repairs in some cases, Sears said.

“This would be the exception,” Bennett said. “And, unfortunately, we have several subdivisions that meet the exception.”

In addition, there would be a process for soliciting residents’ input prior to initiating an SAD, he said.

“We will have public hearings so residents can come and say, ‘please don’t do this’ or ‘yes, do this,’” he said.

There also would be a provision wherein, if 20 percent of residents oppose the project, the township would reconsider.

The SAD alternative would expedite road work, Sears said.

“It takes months to circulate petitions,” he said. “That could mean a whole construction season.”

Even if the board amends the policy this year, it would not affect anyone until at least next summer, Bennett noted.

Township Superintendent Dennis Liimatta said the board also could consider a townshipwide road millage.

“But the problem is, how many special assessment districts have we done (based on petitions) in the last decade alone?” Liimatta said. “All those people have paid for their roads, and they’re going to say, ‘wait a minute; I’ve paid to fix my road, now I’m paying to fix everybody’s.’”

Bennett added that a millage also would mean that residents on primary roads, who also would pay the millage, would not receive direct benefits.

Liimatta said township staff will work with the road commission to write language for the policy amendment and present it for the board’s consideration, possibly by the next regular meeting.