Scottville commission hears about proposed Amber Twp. housing development

February 28, 2023

Scottville commission hears about proposed Amber Twp. housing development

SCOTTVILLE — Scottville City Commission heard a presentation Monday, during its regular bi-monthly meeting, about a proposed housing development that will be located adjacent to the city’s cemetery in Amber Township. Amber resident T.J. Shimunek is proposing a 40-unit housing development on 22 acres of land east of Brookside Cemetery. Though the development is not in the city limits, Shimunek said he would like to see the city enter into an intergovernmental agreement, known commonly as a “425 agreement,” with Amber Township.

According to the Michigan Legislature website, Michigan Act 425 of 1984, the Intergovernmental Conditional Transfer of Property by Contract Act, permits the conditional transfer of property by contract between certain local units of government; to provide for permissive and mandatory provisions in the contract; to provide for certain conditions upon termination, expiration, or nonrenewal of the contract; and to prescribe penalties and provide remedies. 

A 425 agreement is often seen as an alternative to annexation. Under the Michigan Home Rule City Act, Act 279 of 1909, the City of Scottville, as a chartered municipality, has the authority to annex property from a general law township by petition or resolution. A referendum may also take place. If annexation is opposed by the unchartered municipality, it is then overseen by the State Boundary Commission. Amber Township is a general law township, as opposed to a charter township, such as Pere Marquette Township. 

Scottville currently has 425 agreements with Amber and Custer townships, covering land along North Scottville Road to US 31 just north of the city’s northern limits, Johnson Road. This includes land that houses Gateway to Success Academy, Life EMS ambulance station and the US Department of Agriculture and Mason-Lake Conservation District offices. 

Through the agreement, both units typically benefit from property taxes. Additionally, the area within the 425 would fall under city ordinances and enforcement, including zoning and law enforcement. 

Shimunek said his reason for requesting a 425 agreement would be to allow the City of Scottville to have authority over sewer services. The city currently has authority over all water service along US 10-31 from Stiles Road east to the western city limits. New properties along that corridor are required to install water, which is originated at the Ludington Water Treatment facility. However, sewer services are overseen by Mason County and hook-up along the corridor is optional. Because the sewer line is located on the north side of the five-lane highway, and the proposed development is located on the south side, the cost of sewer hookup is extensive and something the county is unwilling to cover. 

Shimunek said the housing development would consist of two bedroom, one bathroom houses that would be rented for about $1,200 to $1,400 per month. The frontage of the property would also include storage units. The houses would be built as modular units and would be placed on foundations, meaning they would be subject to property taxation. 

Shimunek said the houses would be around 820 square feet, which is smaller than many new homes. However, he said there are many homes in Mason County and in the cities of Scottville and Ludington, that are that size. He said building that quantity of larger houses would be cost prohibitive. 

Shimunek has not officially approached the Amber Township Board of Trustees with the request for a 425 agreement. The township board had been scheduled to meet Monday but the meeting was cancelled due to weather. 

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