Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull answered several questions from county commissioners Tuesday, but the main reason he was put on the agenda at the last minute was to ask them to approve an excess spending authorization for Pine Lake.
There is a $10,000 limit that can be spent on a drain project unless commissioners authorize extra spending. The commission approved lifting the $10,000 limit.
The level at Pine Lake was set by the court at 890.5 and is now at 894.1, Dull said.
“Houses are flooded, people are moving out…three county roads have water on them.”
But, he said, before they did anything, they held a public information meeting last week, “to get a feel if the people wanted something done,” or if they would end up in court like they did with Crooked Lake.
Dull said between 350 and 400 people attended the meeting, and most raised their hands when asked if they wanted something done.
When the crowd found the estimate to fix the flooding was $3 million dollars, Dull said, “one guy stood up and said, ‘660 homes, $3 million dollars, $5,000 each. Why ain’t it done?’ Everybody clapped, so I take that as they were on board.”
A study by ProgressiveAE in 1993 would be updated as well as a special assessment district from 1969.
The special assessment district would include lake front property, back lots, lake use and possibly public landings; anyone who benefits from the lake, he said. Allegan County Drain Commissioner Denise Medemar will ask the Allegan Commissioners to lift the limit on Thursday.
With approval from both counties, engineers Chad Marcarelli and Dan Fredericks will present three options to move the Pine Lake water and Dull will start talking to families about easements. Tentative plans are to move the water through a tributary to Gun Lake.
This is a lake level project, not a drain district petition project, which is a much longer process and more expensive than a lake level project, Dull said. Commissioner David Jackson asked if the project went from $3 million to $10 million, was there a way for residents in the special assessment district to stop it.
Dull said no. “To my knowledge that’s the way it works…going to court is possible, I don’t know.”
Jackson said his research showed the high water levels in the state will continue for a year or more. “It looks like there is no other solution.”