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Local News

Watson Drain project raises questions by "many concerned citizens"

An effort to undertake a repair project of the Watson Drain, which includes parts of Hope, Barry, Prairieville, Orangeville townships, will move forward after it was determined necessary and conducive to the public health, convenience or welfare and was necessary for the public health, by a three-member Board of Determination on May 7 at the Barry Township Hall.

 

The panel also approved requiring a surveyor to accurately define the boundaries of the land that may benefit by the proposed improvements, and thus be in the drain district.

 

Commissioner David Jackson attended the meeting and remarked on it at the Tuesday commission meeting. He said it was little confusing because he thought a lot of people came to be informed and be heard because there was no debate, no discussion and no questions asked of the attorney.

“A lot of people expressed concern to me that the result  was baked into it before they got there that it was going to go forward. I confirmed it with Drain Commissioner Jim Dull this morning. He said ‘that’s pretty much their job, to green flag the fact that there is a petition and to put it through, and maybe the discussion from all the people really didn’t matter; that’s the way it is set up.’”

 

“There is no project or assessment at this point,” Jackson said, “but there are many concerned citizens in that area.”

 

A paragraph in the required published public notice reads:

 “The presentation is to provide background for landowners and municipalities in the drainage district and to facilitate the dissemination of information and the receipt of testimony of landowners in the drainage district. The Board of Determination will make decisions at the end of the meeting.”

 

Commissioner Vivian Conner also attended the meeting; she said they did expand a project area, but the drain district may be smaller, “when they decide what the solution is.”

“A lot of people; a lot of different viewpoints…that board was supposed to say whether to go ahead, so they did.” Several people also approached her with concerns, she said.

 

When questioned last week, Dull said they need five landowners in the district to petition for the work, and they have a dozen. “We mailed 1,215 notices, so it is a big district,” he said.

The MDOT, Barry County Road Commission and the townships involved will share in the cost, he said. “We had (an informational) meeting on March 31 with Upper Crooked Lake residents, we had about 60 people there.”

He said the project will not be done any time soon; at least it will take more than a year.

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