By Jessica Mathews /

Allegations were made during Monday night’s Howell City Council meeting regarding jurisdictional road transfers that a local attorney alleges were done to accommodate water service for a controversial industrial shredder project.

Council unanimously approved transferring jurisdiction of Lucy Road, Industrial Street, and a small portion of D-19 from the Livingston County Road Commission to the City. The three were said to be “well within the jurisdictional boundary of the City” and will allow for the City to provide an appropriate level of service to all parcels. A memo states the acceptance of the roads will also allow the City more control of access points for potential developments along Lucy Road and the D-19/South Michigan Avenue corridor.

The Road Commission already approved the transfer, saying the vast majority of residents and businesses on the streets were within the jurisdictional limits of the City and are already paying for City services. In addition, it was said to be more convenient for the City to provide road maintenance services due to the physical location of the streets. Managing Director Steve Wayslk told WHMI last week that it just made more sense for the City to maintain the streets.

Council also approved a survey of Lucy Road and existing elevations with the right-of-way to be done in stages.

However, Howell Attorney Don Parker hurled accusations at Mayor Nick Proctor and Council at Monday night's meeting. Parker represents Protect Livingston, a group opposed to a controversial shredder project, which has been mailing out various fliers since July alleging the shredder does not comply with a court settlement or the City’s zoning ordinance, which requires a fully enclosed building.

Padnos Iron and Metal on Lucy Road has already received needed state and local approvals to construct an industrial car shredder but still needs to connect to a public water supply for operations. Council earlier approved an agreement with the Marion, Howell, Oceola, Genoa (MHOG) Water Authority to allow Padnos to connect to that water system as the property was said to be well within 200 feet of the MHOG system. The City currently has no water main along Lucy Road for the connection of the Padnos property. However, the Padnos request to connect to MHOG was denied by that organization’s board and legal action is possible.

A memo related to the survey work noted that staff has been looking at ways to provide utilities to properties along Lucy Road, which in part was tied to Parker’s allegations. He was permitted around ten minutes to talk, beyond the typical allotted three minutes per agenda topic. Parker went through a timeline of Pandos and water service requests and called it “interesting chronology.” He questioned what provisions were made for water after the City issued a building permit, stating that after MHOG denied the request “the flurry of activity that has transpired since then is suspect at best”.

Mayor Proctor interrupted Parker to question if an accusation was being made, Parker later asserted that he was, to which Proctor responded “I knew it was coming.” Parker eventually stated, “Mr. Mayor, I’m not making an accusation, I’m making an assertion and that assertion is all logic leads that the City plans on providing water to Padnos.” Parker said he thought the real intent of the transfer was that the City is trying to provide water to a project that residents and neighboring townships don’t want – questioning if so, at what cost, and how the City planned on doing it.

Mayor Proctor clarified that nothing on the agenda was related to water but accepting roads into the City and if it comes before Council in the future, then it will be discussed. He also noted that during discussions, the assumption was made that MHOG would extend water to properties along there. Proctor stated that with MHOG’s denial, it was off the table and therefore, Parker’s chronology was a “little weak” on water because they assumed all along MHOG would do the right thing and extend a utility to a legal function in a properly zoned area.

Meanwhile, staff stated they’ve been talking about the transfers for a long time and that the transfer included other roads. It was noted there is also a significant development to consider between D-19 and Lucy Road on the far south end. That would be a large Motorsports Gateway project with JD Racing for the Highland-Howell property that encompasses 216-acres along I-96 between Lucy Road and Michigan Avenue, as well as two additional parcels to the north. That project is still in the purchase-agreement phase and it was noted more solid plans are at least 90 to 260 days out from possibly being presented to the Planning Commission.

More information about the transfer and survey are available in the attachments and the link to the meeting packet.