Dexter Forum talks brush mowing, residential development and fire station locations

By Lonnie Huhman,

Motorists around Dexter and the Washtenaw County area have probably noticed the unique mowing done recently on the sides of some roads.

This as well as the proposed Sloan-Kingsley Farms residential development  in Scio Township and city of Dexter’s fire station debate were some of the topics discussed at the May 4 Dexter Forum.

Doug Fuller, of the Washtenaw County Road Commission and frequent forum attendee, said the WCRC has been mowing brush this spring and the whole point of this mowing is to get the “jungle back away from the road.” He said this type of mowing hasn’t been done in like 30 years, primarily because of the WCRC needing to prioritize the money resources it has on things like roads. He said the mower is typically taking down brush with branches around two inches thick and emphasized this wasn’t a tree cutting project.

WCRC is responsible for mowing the road right-of-way, typically 33-feet from the center line of the road for more than 1,600 miles of road each summer and fall. However, what was done this spring was more of the brush rather than grass cutting, which will come later on.

Forum co-moderators John Hansen and Karl Fink in their notes said, “There was general unhappiness with the results of the velociraptor or whatever the road commission calls the dystopian machine that is used to vertically ‘mow’ along the sides of the roads. We blamed it all on Doug Fuller, our road commissioner, who gets blamed for lots of things but still keeps coming to the Forum anyway. There is probably a little math problem here as well. A crew of arborists with pruning shears probably costs more than one mean machine.”

One forum attendee said he appreciated the mowing because sight lines on the roads have been improved and he doesn’t think anyone will even remember the mowing except when they do see in time the animal running out in front of their vehicle.

The topic of the Sloan-Kingsley Farms centered around the idea of the development having its own sewer and water systems, and what that might mean.

This development is before the Scio Township Planning Commission and is proposed to be located south and adjacent to the city of Dexter, off of Baker Road, with its northern boundary being the Dexter Industrial Park and Dexter Crossing subdivision. A portion of the property is west of Baker Road alongside the Sloan Preserve, which is a Scio Township Park.

It would be 263 homes on 274 acres that would be serviced by a community (meaning the development, not the township) waste water system while all onsite water will be supplied by a community development well that would also include a 40 feet by 40 feet water storage tank. There would be storm water detention areas on the site as well as hydrants.

The development planners said these systems would be owned by the community development and would adhere to the same rules and standards that municipal systems must follow. The potential location for the waste water treatment plant would be on the property across Baker near the Sloan Preserve while the potential spot for the community well is near Dexter Crossings.

The forum attendee who introduced the topic said his one main concern would be these utilities. He said it can be very difficult to operate these types of utilities systems, and he’s concerned about a residential development taking those things on itself.

This sentiment was echoed by Dexter City Councilmember Zach Michels and he noted the concerns those systems could have on Mill Creek, which is close to the development property.

In another community topic, Webster Township trustee John Scharf said he wanted to hear more about the city’s recent facilities meeting. The city’s meeting included a number of topics like a new city hall and discussion about either renovating the current station or building a new one on the MAVD property across Dexter-Ann Arbor Road from Mill Creek Middle School.

Some of the forum attendees said the presentation at the city meeting was not a good one and left some confused.

Noting that, Scharf said nonetheless the meeting was important because it’s a critical topic before the city and Dexter Area Fire Authority. He said he wondered about all of the potential costs, including if the city decides to renovate the current fire station the question remains as to how much it would cost for a temporary station to be set up while that’s done.

Forum attendees agreed the potential costs of both plans as well as the value of the properties, and what it all means to taxpayers, needs to be clear for the community.

Scharf compared the fire station talk to the discussion around the Dexter District Library debate back 10 years ago. He said doing it right and paying for it is probably the best decision, and he noted that most community members have nothing but good things to say about the library rather than dwelling on debates of old.

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