Saline Township Supervisor Jim Marion wants the township to preserve its rural and agricultural character. That’s why, he says, he wants the City of Saline to annex 117 acres of land west of the city and to provide water and sewer for Andelina Farms, a 276-unit development with single family homes, multi-family homes and 20 acres of commercial development.
Marion said he thinks a deal can be done.
“There needs to be a three-way discussion to get the job done between Andelina Farms, the city and the township, to get the land annexed into the city with city water and sewer,” Marion said. “The city has not said no. To our knowledge, the city has no problem taking the land into the city. Andelina Farms doesn’t want to come up with a lot of money.”
Township attorney Fred Lucas expressed hope that the city and Saline Ventures might strike a deal still.
“The Saline sewer system is going to need improvements. It’s antiquated and needs to be upgraded. It seems to me if the city and Saline Ventures get together and reach a deal, that would be one way to get additional money for improvements.”
Officials from Saline Ventures, owned by Pinnacle Homes, say that a utilities study conducted by the city showed that the cost of extending water and sewer to the development, if paid for by the developer, makes building unfeasible.
Marion doesn’t buy it.
“It amounts to about $20,000 per unit. So I don’t know why (they won’t pay),” Marion said.
Instead, Saline Ventures is proposing the property be annexed into the city with the development getting water and sewer from River Ridge – a proposition that has been met with resistance from city council and some residents of River Ridge, some of whom are already unhappy with water and sewer service.
Council is expected to discuss the proposal again, along with a series of related issues, at its meeting Monday night.
Several residents attended Monday’s township board meeting looking for answers and help stopping the proposal. But attorney Lucas cautioned residents that something was likely going to built on the property.
“This isn’t a choice between, ‘do we allow them to hook up to River Ridge or let them go away.’ They’re not going away. If they don’t find a deal with the city, the other alternative to River Ridge is that they build their own septic system,” Lucas said. “That’s just another sewer plant. I’m not sure it makes sense to have multiple sewer plants in a small geographic area. But one thing we can’t tell them is that they can’t develop or deprive them of value from their land. As long as it’s in accordance with our zoning, the township will have to let it occur.”
Several people asked if the township already had struck a deal with the developer.
Lucas explained that the township accepted a planned unit development plan for the land – but that the project would be subject to much review.
He also cautioned people not to read too much into the draft 425 agreement which spells out the terms of annexing the land into the city.
“A draft is just a piece of paper written by lawyers,” Lucas said. “As a matter of absolute fact, we don’t have any agreements with anyone. This board has never authorized any agreement.”
He said a deal would require scrutiny by the board and public hearings in the city and township.
On the subject of the existing River Ridge sewer plant, Marion said that it was his impression that when it was built, it was built only to serve that development.
“And that’s something I plan to stand by,” Marion said.
Lucas said that if Saline Ventures buy water and sewer service from River Ridge, it would require an upgrade of the facility – something that might actually benefit River Ridge residents who are unhappy with their service.