Dirt, dust, and mud plague unpaved roads.  How do you get a residential dirt/gravel road paved?  In Columbia Township (and Michigan), you and your neighbors pay for it.  The process starts by residents forming a special assessment district (SAD).  Those along the road sign a petition.  From there, the request goes to Columbia Township.  Once approved, the Township collects the cost through property taxes.  Jackson County Department of Transportation (JCDOT) paves the road.

The path to a new road can be bumpy because not everyone along the road will agree.  A likely reason is cost, or some just don’t think it’s needed.  But not everyone must agree.  A majority vote decides if work will happen.  A current Lake Columbia SAD now in process helps explains how it works.  Some of the residents who live on Garrison Drive want their road paved.  According to the Township, nine property owners have road frontage.  For the SAD to go forward, a majority (51%) must sign the petition.  Not all votes are equal.  Impact of the votes are based on length of road frontage.  If you have more frontage, your vote counts more.  The assessment on one’s property taxes works differently.  Each property owner will be assessed equally by taking the total cost and dividing it by the number of property owners.

The video below was recorded during public comment at the Township board meeting on Monday, January 16.  In this excerpt, Garrison Drive property owner Matthew Dale raises objections to the SAD.

Last year at Clark Lake, residents on Eagle Point Drive formed an SAD.  The process was bumpy.  The project was delayed as some residents fought it.  In the end, it went forward.  For that project, JCDOT contributed 30% of the cost, and the assessment cost was spread over three years.  In addition to the paving, JCDOT also addressed drainage problems.  The road was graded so water would flow away from residences to the north, and into a drainage ditch to the north.  How is that working?  Thursday, January 19th was rainy.  Here are two photos taken in the morning.