Thursday, March 18, 2021

Residents oppose township sidewalk program

Julie Brown, Special Writer

Homeowners in Canton Township are calling the upcoming sidewalk repair/maintenance program set to begin April 1 a cruel joke.

Despite complaints from 10 or 11 residents during a March 9 public hearing which took place using Zoom, members of the board of trustees approved the project.

“Many homeowners are barely hanging on. This project needs to be suspended,” wrote one in comments read aloud that evening by township Clerk Michael Siegrist.

Others who spoke or wrote, noted the impact of COVID-19 leading to job layoffs and financial hardship. The Huntington Place No. 2 subdivision writer added that the marking of affected sidewalk panels by township workers using red dots for municipal responsibility and green for homeowners, “was a total joke.”

Trustee Tania Ganguly asked about the availability of the five-year payment option which charges residents 6 percent interest. Ganguly asked if interest could be waived, with Treasurer Dian Slavens replying that bank loans are available to residents.

Two separate households inquired March 9 at the meeting about their corner lots which necessitates their expense for the replacement of some 17 sidewalk panels. Homeowners have 60 days after the public hearing to either have repairs done or the township will proceed with the work and bill the resident for the cost.

Questions were asked about quality of materials used to replace sidewalk panels. Director of Municipal Services Jade Smith noted liability concerns following a 1997 Michigan Supreme Court Case that didn't favor Canton Township.

Residents also inquired March 9 about the Americans With Disabilities Act factor, asking why a federal law provision is put on homeowners and not on the township. 

One woman asked if financial assistance could be offered for maintaining trees near sidewalks, where roots can cause damage. Officials noted housing developers installed the trees as part of initial construction.

The Zone 5 area is near Cherry Hill and Canton Center roads, and some of that work was delayed last year due to water main work done.

 The subdivisions targeted for sidewalk repair in Zone 6 this year are located south of Cherry Hill Road, west of Canton Center Road, east of Beck Road and north of Michigan Avenue in Hidden River Estates, Huntington Place #1 and #2, Kimberly Meadows, Meadow Villages of Canton #1 and #2, North Woods Place and Pinewood #1 and #2. 

Smith said residents should direct their calls regarding sidewalk issues lto the township engineering department at (734) 394-5150. 

“We are more than happy to come out and revisit the properties,” he said.

In other business March 9, following a closed session, a tentative pact was ratified with Local 2289 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The fire fighters had been working without a pact, and are now covered by a collective bargaining agreement from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2023.

“We have a really great contract,” said Kerreen Conley, township human resources manager.