2018-08-09 / Front Page

Thomas Twp. to conduct sewer rate study, regulates wind energy ordinances

By Mandilee Hecht

During the Monday, Aug. 6 meeting of Thomas Township, the board approved a Consumers Energy resolution to make a change to the lighting service in the Standard Lighting Contract.

This change will add one streetlight at the curve on the gravel section of Schomaker Road. The hope is that the newly-lit area will also deter people from throwing discarded items and garbage there, a longstanding problem at that location, Township Manager Russ Taylor said.

The township board also approved the professional services contract with Municipal Analytics, of Ann Arbor, to complete a sewer rate study for an amount not to exceed $14,500. The current sewer rates were instituted in 2007. Since that time sewer rates have not been adjusted to reflect ongoing expenses, usage, and trends.

“Due to the fact it’s been 11 years since we’ve done this study, it’s doing our proper due diligence to verify that the rates are, or are not, where they should be, and to reflect the current cost to provide sewer service to the community, and anticipated infrastructure needs in the future,” Taylor said.

Municipal presented the township with a detailed proposal and schedule for the study, that once completed will include a written report. It will then present it, along with any recommendations, to the board during an upcoming meeting several months from now.

Similar studies have been conducted for other local municipalities including Saginaw Township and Frankenmuth and Kochville townships.

The board approved various text amendments and added two new sections regarding wind energy, recommended by the planning commission, that served as amendments to zoning regulations. The ordinances’ purpose is to ensure they’re up-to-date and in line with current state and federal laws.

Rob Eggers, of Spicer Group, was hired to review the current ordinance and make recommendations to the board.

The most significant changes, recommended by Eggers, was the locations of where the systems could be constructed, confining it to five square miles within a wind inclusion zone; and strengthening the distance requirement between homes and the systems.

Other text amendments set forth general requirements for special land use permit requirements, and clarifying ordinance language.

Taylor added that the township is required to allow wind energy structures somewhere within the township.

A copy of each ordinance is available in the township clerk’s office, 249 N. Miller Road, during regular business hours.

It also approved the upgrade in lighting at the public safety building with the bid awarded to Helm Electric at $6,248; and the bid amount of $5,263 to Jon Oakes, of Oakes Farms in St. Charles, to complete tile work at Roberts Park.

The board approved the terms of an agreement between Thomas Township and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to appropriate grant funds. It voted to accept the DNR trust fund Land Acquisition Grant for the eventual purchase of the Heritage Insurance Building, 6660 Gratiot Road. Plans include using the building as an access to the Thomas Township Nature Preserve property.

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