The City of Saline may appeal the state’s decision to grant a permit that will allow the developers of Andelina Farms to discharge wastewater treatment effluent into an unnamed tributary of the Saline River, near the third phase of Huntington Woods phase three.
Saline City Council returned from another lengthy meeting behind closed doors to pass the motion, 6-0.
The motion authorizes the city attorney to engage experts and analyze the appropriateness the state permit which will allow the Andelina Farms development to dump wastewater treatment plant effluent in a tributary of the Saline River near the third phase of Huntington Woods. Based on that investigation, the motion would also authorize Mayor Brian Marl and City Manager Todd Campbell to take all actions necessary to appeal the permit.
The motion was moved by Councillor Dean Girbach and seconded by Jack Ceo. Councillor Heidi McClelland was absent. Council did not discuss or debate the motion in a public venue.
Marl did briefly elaborate before the vote was taken. He said the city’s legal representation and staff have been “empowered” to engage their counterparts in Saline Township to “begin the development of a framework for an automatic annexation agreement which may apply to a number of parcels on the southwest border” in the “urban development area” found in the city’s master plan.
Marl said such an agreement will take “some time to negotiate and consider.”
Nobody else on council spoke to the motion before voting.
The City of Saline and Saline Ventures were unable to come to an agreement to bring city water and sewer to the planned 284-unit development on 117 acres in Saline Township, just west of the city limits, between US-12 and Austin Road. Saline Ventures went forward with plans to develop the land as Saline Township property, with well water and a private wastewater treatment plant.
In June, the State of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy authorized Saline Ventures’ plan to discharge effluent from the private plant into an unnamed tributary of the Saline River, not far from where Huntington Woods Phase 3 is being constructed. City leaders were unhappy with the state’s decision.
The state added a couple of qualifiers. If the property to the north of Andelina Farms is developed, the wastewater treatment plant must be expanded to provide sewer service for up to 400 extra homes.
Additionally, the permit requires the developer configure the wastewater treatment plant so that it might one day connect into the city’s sanitary sewer line.
In July, the Saline Township Board unanimously approved the developer’s planned unit development agreement, contingent the state’s approval of a few more permits.
According to the permit, any party “aggrieved” by the permit can challenge the permit. However, the state can reject any permit filed more than 60 days after issuance as untimely. The permit was approved June 21.
What’s not clear is why the city appears to be challenging the permit at the same time as it begins negotiating a potential annexation plan with Saline Township.
It’s also not clear what has convinced the city to begin negotiating to annex land on the west end. In the past, the city has said it doesn’t have the funds to extend utilities beyond existing city limits. By the same token, the developer has said it would not pay to extend to the utilities.
During an interview with the Saline Post in July, Mayor Marl suggested the state should help municipalities like Saline help manage growth in a sensible and environmentally-friendly manner.