BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
The original water and sewer master plan for Independence Township was developed and adopted back in 1995. Times change, as township Planning and Zoning Manager Brian Oppmann explained to the Township Board, Jan. 21.
The master plan is “a planning tool, a policy document that outlines how water and sewer services are going to be provided in the township,” Oppmann said.
“Boundaries are finite in nature in that water and sewer is not unlimited here in the township,” he said. “What you’re seeing is really an updating of the plan. The board, over the years, has adopted other policies and those have been incorporated into this plan, the boundaries of the water sewer district and that change, the map’s been updated. And it’s actually parcel-base now, so it’s a little clearer to read than the previous iteration that we’ve had in the past in the past.”
Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle noted the water district was south of Clarkston Road, but there are some neighboring parcels to the north that are allowed to directionally tap into the water main system.
“Since 1995, I believe the boundary has only been amended three times,” said consultant Richard Carlisle, of Carlisle, Wortman and Associates planning firm. “One, to allow for the school off M-15 to be included in the boundaries, once to extend water to the right to the church just north of the fire station on Sashabaw to allow them to extend water, and then a third time under the circumstances that we had an individual whose septic system failed and they were contiguous to the district.”
The township had no policy at that time, Carlisle said.
“We actually amended the township policy that under very limited circumstances, such as a septic failure, if you are contiguous, you are a contiguous property. The board would allow for the extension without the actual formal amendment to the water and sewer boundary,” he said.
Carlisle added the township is part of the Oakland interceptor system with a dozen other communities, and has an allocated capacity it is authorized to use.
“Consequently, the water and sewer boundary was established in conjunction with the master plan and zoning considerations to be able to service those portions of the township that would be in need of source service at that time or in the future based on our plans and support,” he said. “Why we have advised the community in this respect is because you have an obligation to those properties that are in the sewer district boundary to provide them with sewer services at the time that they may need them. And coincidentally, we have our policies or land use policies towards areas outside the water and sewer district that have been to promote lower density type of development that does not need water and sewer to be able to function.”
In the 25 years since the original document was passed, Carlisle said “we felt it was just time to really be updated.”
Some language needs to be clarified to indicate the system has expanded, particularly water.
“But as Brian suggests, the actual boundaries themselves have not changed,” Carlisle said. “We get questions about whether properties are in or out, we get questions about whether it can be expanded here and there. And this document, even in its current form before we’ve amended it, has been the guiding document where we’ve been able to advise people.”
Kittle is in favor of the master plan update as long as it doesn’t cheapen the character of the township.
“Now, I understand capacity, but I also understand maintaining the character, the community and having those biggest state-size lots in the north and the more urban feel in the south,” he said. “I think that really does add to the character of the community, and I’d like to see that maintained.”
“This community has maintained that, particularly in the northwest part of the township, but also in the northeast part of the township and I think you’re exactly right,” added Carlisle. “It’s what’s really defined the balance in this community, the value of this community.”