Sylvan Township repeals a past sewer decision

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Sylvan Township Hall

The Sylvan Township Board revisited a previous sewer related decision at its July 6 meeting and repealed it as it looks to formulate a new path forward.

By a 5-0 vote of the township board, the resolution that added parcels to the sewer district was repealed and now Sylvan will look to meet with Washtenaw County representatives in order to get a better idea as to what it should do or can do when it comes to service area expansion.

In her explanation of the agenda item to revisit the decision of adding parcels, township supervisor Kathleen Kennedy said the previous resolution that was passed in May 2021 had an address list that was over seven years old.

In addition, some of the parcels on the list were non-existent or had splits since the list was compiled.

Kennedy said this agenda matter was set out as a discussion item with township attorney Robert Thall, who advised the board that the resolution was not likely necessary. She said preliminary discussion with Thall led to an even larger discussion.

After the meeting, Kennedy told The Sun Time News: “I would like the residents to know that, as much as possible, the Board would like to protect their ability to choose to hook up to the sewer system in the event of septic field failure. We look forward to working with Washtenaw County and our attorney on this.”

The resolution that was repealed dealt with extending sewer use and establishing the Sylvan Township Sanitary Sewer and Disposal Overlay District No. 1.

During discussion, Thall said an ordinance can allow for the expansion of the sewer service area, which could be determined by the board. He said expansion would probably be expected over time with new development.

The question the board wants to take a deeper look at is if hooking up to the system should be required and mandatory for all development. 

Another look at this question is, should Sylvan allow hookup to those who desire it, but not require it, especially if the parcel is a larger one?

It was noted that in general, if a parcel is within 200 feet of a municipal sewer line then it is considered accessible and available for hookup. However, Thall said any suggestion of requiring or allowing accessibility to the sewer is up to the township board.

Obviously, there would be costs to connect with the sewer system and more sewer hookups means more customers helping to pay for it.

Thall said the township will need to consult with the county in order to get more information as to the questions it has. 

He did emphasize that one key role the township does have is designating if the sewer line is available for hookup.

And as an example of when it might be mandatory to connect, Thall said if a parcel’s individual sewer fails then the county might ask if the municipal system is available and within 200 feet of that parcel, and if it is, then it might be required to hook up to than rather build its own septic field.

Other potential mandatory hookups could be with new construction within the service area.

Township board trustee Sandie Schulze said the question she has, as the township moves forward with further investigating this matter, is if an established parcel’s sewer fails and it is within the sewer district, but has enough property (probably 5-10 acres) to build its own new septic field, then should it be required to connect to the municipal system?

Kennedy said they will now look to meet with county officials in an effort to get some answers to their questions.

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