Debates flare over water, sewer cutoff

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By Jennifer Raye
Meridian Times staff writer

MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP – Proposed placement of the urban service boundary’s cut-off lines, which decides which properties receive municipal water and sewer, divided the township board members and residents at the township meeting on Oct. 18.

Proposed Water/Sewer Line

Uncertainty and concern with the USB stemmed from lack of a proper definition and how quickly it became and action item on the board meeting agenda.

“I would have rather seen the words first on what it’s meant to do and how it was going to work before it got up, close and personal with real lines,” said Mary Helmbrecht, the township board’s clerk.

Four of the seven board members agreed to move the boundary line more north to include the properties adjacent to the water main.

At the north edge of the township is the main area of concern. Two properties are outside of the service area with a water main in front of them.

Township Supervisor Susan McGillicuddy, Trustee Brett Dreyfus and Director of Community Planning and Development Mark Kieselbach, told the board that if those property owners ever wanted to build a house on thoseproperties, the health department would not grant them a permit to drill a well because of their proximity to the water main.

Properties within 200 feet of the main water are required to hook up to it by the Ingham County Health Department.

“Therefore the ordinance we adopt should allow them to connect to the water main in front of their property even though they are outside of the USB,” said John Veenstra, a trustee board member, “We should move the boundary (more north), not the water main.”

Dreyfus and Lynn Ochberg did not agree that moving the line would be beneficial.

“By changing this line, which has been suggested by Trustee Veenstra, we would be encouraging sprawl. Right now, we’re in a tight economic time and we would be encouraging development that is completely 180 degrees from all the planning we’ve been involved in for the last 30 years,” Ochberg said.

“I agree that the expansion encourages the opportunity of sprawl and the point we’re trying to make is to be able to control that appropriately and it allows the houses and property owners to get access to water if they choose,” Dreyfus said.

Township residents have also raised concern.

Carl Harmon, a resident in Okemos, urged the board members that if this boundary is necessary, it must be definite.

“It depends on if it’s drawn in the sand, if its going to be a line, it needs to be a hard line, a real line,” he said. “Have a vote in the non-USB area, a majority vote and a majority vote in the township. That’s something I could support because then you would have the full weight of the community behind you,” he said.

Definite boundaries have not been drawn. The next meeting, possibly Nov. 1 at 6 p.m., an approved plan will be distributed and people will be able to comment. Julie Brixie, the township treasurer requested that Jim Wilson from the Ingham County Health Department make a presentation about the proposed boundary.

One thought on “Debates flare over water, sewer cutoff

  1. Well-sourced and tightly written. Water issues are very important to small towns. I would have wanted to know where the boundaries of the usb and the affected areas are.