Invasive Species Measure Passes Amid Cost Debate

Webster Township residents are going to be paying more to set up the proposed Chain of Lakes invasive species control district than other townships. Before the vote, Tuesday, May 17, Township Trustee John Westman asked how the rates would be distributed and if it was equitable.

“Compared to Dexter Township, we have a very small resident [population]. That doesn’t seem like that’s a very equitable approach,” Westman said.

“It is not, in terms of resident, equitable,” Webster Township Supervisor John Kingsley said. “I don’t know how you establish fairness in a case like this. We are paying more for resident than Hamburg Township or Putnam Township.”

Webster Township’s Board of Trustees voted to contribute another $5,000 in creating a management plan and title search effort, to move forward to create a special district to deal with the weed problem in the Chain of Lakes. But the other townships are also paying $5,000.

The proposed multi-township district has been in the works since a study done by Restorative Lake Sciences, a Spring Lake based lake evaluation company, at the request of the Portage, Base & Whitewood Owners Association.

Webster Township has about 6,700 residents. Whereas in Hamburg Township, which has around 20,000 residents, is paying around a quarter per resident. That does mean that the cost of creating a management plan and conducting title searches will cost Webster Township more than other townships.

“It’s less than a dollar per resident for the entire township,” of Webster, Kingsley said by phone.

The management plan and title search is being done by the Washtenaw County Department of Public Works, which is doing the whole project since Livingston County doesn’t have a public works department. Since Kingsley estimates over 5,000 titles have to be searched through, the townships are paying this money to reimburse the county. Kingsley estimates the whole process to cost all of the townships $20,000.

The vote approving the $5,000 investment was unanimous. But this is far from the final vote on the project. The district won’t be established until next year. The township boards will be voting individually on whether or not to approve the district once the management plan is done and other public information hearings have been conducted.

“It was more per resident than what say Hamburg Township is paying per resident, because Hamburg Township is also paying $5,000,” Kingsley said.

Webster Township has spent $6,700 in preliminary costs to set up the district, including the $5,000 from the May 17 meeting. A public hearing in Webster Township took place earlier this year. Two more public hearings will take place in 2017.

“What this would do is offset the initial costs of setting up the special assessment district,” Kingsley said.

As stated in a previous article on We Love Dexter, the Chain of Lakes is currently dealing with five non-native species that are threatening the overall health of the local ecosystem. These plants are Watermilfoil, Starry Stonewort, Purple Loosestrife, Phgramites and Flowering Rush.

The Chain of Lakes is part of the 904 square mile Huron River Watershed. Of the lakes studied – Zukey, Strawberry, Gallagher, Little Portage, big Portage, Baseline, Whitewood and Tamarack– three lakes, Base Line, Big and Little Portage, are in Webster Township.

This total bill to remove the five invasive species is estimated to cost $161,216 over six years by the study. The proposed special abatement district would cover Webster, Dexter, Scio, Hamburg and Putnam Townships and others in the Chain of Lakes.

Once the title search is completed and the various townships approve, the average lake lot would pay $250 per year. Back lots with lake access would pay about half what a lake-lot property would cost.

“It will be divided equally [by property owners], not by frontage,” Kingsley said.

Also, if a homeowner owns more than one parcel of land that are separated by other properties, they would have to pay for each lot separately. But if the parcels are right next to each other, they would pay one fee.

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