Residents ask township for help with site condominium problem
There was standing room only at the Raisin Township Board of Trustees meeting on Monday evening, April 8, with many of the seats being filled by residents of Windsong I, a site condominium project. Kay Cross, representing the condominium association, inquired as to the township’s stance on an issue involving a pond that doesn’t drain properly near the homes.
“We were wondering if you have any other plans for our drainage problem?” Cross said.
Raisin Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh said, “It’s really up to the residents of Windsong to take the next steps to find out what they can do.” Cavanaugh said there were options for the group to seek legal action against the developer.
Residents are concerned about work they believe was inadequately addressed more than 10 years ago when the pond was put in and the property developed to build new homes. Flooding occurred in 2008 and residents fear it will happen again if not addressed. What to do about the problem has been exacerbated by some of the affected land going into foreclosure and reverting to the county. A few months ago, the county asked the township if they would like to take over the properties, but officials declined.
Matt Van Black, former president of the association, said that the group has been in contact with Building Inspector Harry Hutchison for at least five years.
“I think we have been very patient trying to hear a status update, and we were told that the township is pursuing Doug Myers (the developer),” said Van Black, who added that fingers had also been pointed between the township and the Lenawee County Drain Commission as to who was responsible for the problem. Van Black said if there was a problem with the original development plans, homes should never have been built there. “Now something that was an oversight is expected to be carried out by us, and we don’t feel it’s fair.”
Trustee Larry Crittenden said going back in history, there was a time that the pond was deemed adequate to handle the drainage.
“If we were going to do anything as a township, and I’m not saying we are, basically what we would do is organize a special assessment district for all the property in that particular community,” Crittenden said. “Somebody would figure out what the cost was going to be to spread it over 10 years. It’s really no different than the dam uptown at Red Mill Pond where property owners are going to pay for correction.”
Township attorney David Lacasse said the difficult thing the township finds itself in today is that the township actually is very limited in what it could do against the developer, if anything, because it is a site condo.
“Where we find ourselves today is the residents, owners, association members actually have certain rights under the law,” he said. “My suggestion is that you seek your own legal counsel as to what those are and how you can take advantage of them from your point of view, and who your counsel feels is responsible to finish that pond.” Options might include seeking legal action against the developer, request that the Drain Commission install a new drain, and seek a special assessment for Windsong for the necessary work.
“None of these options are good. None may ultimately place the cost and burden of responsibility on who may have been responsible,” Lacasse said. “But those are the options that we basically have left. Again, I advise the association and you as residents of that site condominium to seek your own legal counsel and get advice from someone knowledgeable in this area of the law as to what your rights are.”
“We know that’s not the answer you want to hear,” Cavanaugh said to the group. “It’s not the answer we want to give you. It’s an unfortunate situation and none of us up here is happy with it.”