Green Oak Township officials are looking into a resident-initiated project that is somewhat unprecedented.

A canal on the north side of Whitmore Lake has shrunk and filled in over time, causing sediment runoff and yard encroaching. Property owners along the stretch want to dredge the canal and install seawalls so it can be safely accessed with boats. The group of residents is willing to take on a Special Assessment District (SAD) to cover the cost, even with project estimates ranging from approximately $5,900 to $50,000 per parcel based on the amount of frontage they own.

The group is also looking to dredge the opposite side of the canal, however the other side is Canal Road, which is considered “common land” and not owned by anyone. Township Supervisor Mark St. Charles says he’s not sure the residents are legally allowed to improve common land property because there is no owner of record to assign the assessment to.

St. Charles says this situation is unique to anything he's encountered in his 20 years as an official. He wants to confirm the improvements can be legally carried out because if not, the SAD could be vacated by the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

St. Charles says he’s looking for second opinions from the township’s attorney and bond counsel before moving forward. The issue was discussed by Green Oak’s Board of Trustees at their Wednesday meeting. The board indicated they would be open to fronting the money to fund the project, which would be paid back by the residents through the SAD. (DK)