Recently, this website reported that a meeting would be held regarding the bad condition of roads in Columbia Township and what could be done to improve them.  On Wednesday (10/12), a group of local officials and concerned residents met, as reported.  An organizer estimated about 80 property owners attended.  When asked how many were from Lake Columbia, the vast majority raised their hands.

Columbia Township’s rough roads are no secret.  During the two hour meeting, those attending raised questions about how to fix them.  Some expressed frustrations, but in the end, there was applause directed at those who put the meeting together.  Though not acting in his official role as township supervisor, Barry Marsh led the meeting.  He’s pictured below with the two individuals from the Jackson County Department of Transportation (JCDOT), Charlie Briner and Project Manager Jim Cole.

JCDOT’s Jim Cole explained their challenge using a PowerPoint presentation.  No surprise that blame falls on lack of funding. (You can download the entire PowerPoint presentation by clicking here.  Excerpts from it are part of this article).

One startling statistic is this: Jackson and Washtenaw Counties have about the same number of miles of road.  Yet, Washtenaw far exceeds Jackson in road funding.  Revenue comes from various forms of taxation, including special assessment districts (SAD), and grants.

The difference revolves around population, population growth and willingness to impose taxes.

What are the sources of tax revenues for Jackson County?  This chart outlines them.

JCDOT’s evaluation of the roads match the widely held view that roads are in bad shape.  Green indicates good; yellow, fair; and red, poor.

As you can see, the majority of Columbia Township roads reflect what every driver knows.  Conditions are worse in the spring when potholes exacerbate safety issues or cause damage to cars.

Three options were outlined as ways to improve roads.


Barry Marsh said the Columbia Township Board was unlikely to pass a millage or force a SAD as residents might see it as a tax grab.

Some neighborhoods in Columbia Township have taken the SAD route for road improvement.  A section of road at Lake Columbia was financed in this way.  More recently, residents along Eagle Point Drive similarly invoked a SAD to pay for paving that replaced the gravel surface. To institute such a SAD requires property owners to petition the Township, showing a majority are in favor of it.  The majority is determined by road frontage that amounts to 50% plus one.  The County pays for 30% of the cost, and property owners pay the remaining 70% over a term that is usually 3 years.  The cost is divided equally among each property owner.

At the meeting, a form was made available to those who would have an interest in forming a SAD.

A starting point could be to contact the Columbia Township office to learn about some of the legal requirements and receive other advice on how to proceed.


Previous articles on this website:

October 4  Road Meeting – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation

June 21  The Roads – Clark Lake Spirit Foundation  – Though the meeting mentioned in the article was cancelled, this report provides additional context about the issue.