FRUITLAND TWP. – Property owners on Murray Road have until the end of the business day March 18 to inform, by petition, if they are in favor or opposed to a special tax assessment to help fund improvements to the crumbling road.
The township board unanimously voted Feb. 19 to send the petitions to the owners of 173 parcels of land on Murray Road, a 1.36 mile paved, two-lane road from Scenic Drive to Dock Road (White River Channel). It will take at least 87 yes votes to approve the special assessment.
If the special assessment is approved by at least 51 percent of the property owners in the special assessment district, the repaving and drainage work on the road is expected to be completed this coming fall. If it isn’t approved, the road work will not be performed and the township will use its funds to make improvements to Riley Thompson Road and Todd Road.
Also if the special assessment district levy is approved, property owners who object to being included in the district, can voice their objection at the March 18 township board meeting which will begin at 5 p.m.
In the township board’s action Feb. 19, the property owners in the Murray Road special assessment district would be assessed $651 for each parcel. That assessment is subject to a 10 percent increase or decrease depending on the final cost of the project. The special assessment will be levied for one year and be a part of the Winter Taxes.
If approved, this will be the first special assessment district for road improvements in the township.
The establishment of the special assessment district is a result of an estimated $110,000 funding shortfall for the Murray Road project.
The Muskegon County Road Commission has estimated the cost of the project at $550,000. The township has committed $330,000 (60 percent) toward the project.
The road commission, which on recent road improvement projects in the township, has funded the remaining 40 percent, will only fund 20 percent ($110,000) of the Murray Road work.
That’s because Murray Road does not fall under the county’s asset management profile.
Fruitland Township Supervisor Sam St. Amour had explained at the Feb. 6 public hearing for the special assessment district that the Murray Road work doesn’t qualify under the township’s asset management plan either, but the board is committed to improving the road for residents.
Last fall the township formed a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to explore the possibility of forming a special assessment district to cover the expected funding shortfall.
At the required public hearing, Charles Deupree, spokesman for the CAC said it had contacted the affected property owners, and about 65 percent who responded to on online straw vote, were in favor of the special assessment.
Deupree said the key to a successful result will be to get the property owners to submit their notarized petitions. Petitions not returned by the March 18 deadline will be considered no votes, according to the township.
Township Clerk Karolyn Rillema said at the Feb. 19 meeting that the petitions would be mailed the following day. Each mailing was to include a petition(s), a copy of the board’s resolution and a letter of explanation from the township.
The project for Murray Road, which provides access to the White Lake Channel and the township-owned White River Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, would include asphalt resurfacing, upgrading of the road base, widening of the paved surface in some areas and replacement of concrete curbing.