Schoolcraft Begins Process to Become a Charter Township

By Sue Moore

Could the threat of annexation by a neighboring city or village cause Schoolcraft Township to become a charter township? Its Board of Trustees considered the possibility, then placed the issue before voters on a March 10, 2020 ballot. The vote to do so was unanimous.

“Becoming a charter township would protect us from annexation,” Supervisor Don Ulsh explained. “The Portage city manager told me they don’t have enough property to build affordable housing on anymore.” Other governmental units too have eyeballed expanding their village boundaries into the township over the years, he has indicated on other occasions.

“What are the downsides of going in this direction?” Treasurer Teresa Scott asked.

Township Attorney Mike Homier didn’t offer downsides. “We would be able to provide more fire and police protection than a general law township. It would make annexation a lot more difficult for others if we were a charter township.”

Trustee Ken Hovenkamp asked if switching to a charter township government would make a difference in efforts to create a district to fund sewer expansion in the township?
It would not, Homier said.

General law townships, according to an article on the Michigan Townships Association website, receive at least one mill of the tax of up to 15 to 18 mills allocated among a county, its townships, school districts and an intermediate school district. A charter township does not share in that allocation, but voters may authorize a tax of up to five mills, or up to 10 mills with another vote. Currently the township receives .8 mills.

In other business, trustees heard a presentation from Joanna Johnson, director of the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, citing the services provided to the township residents along with the use of township road money on secondary roads. The road commission is responsible for 1,268 miles of roads in the county. Johnson stressed the need for citizens to be the county’s eyes on the condition of roads they travel. There is a portal on the road commission web site where people can report anything that needs to be fixed on any road in the county. It is possible on the web site to track this report through to its final outcome.

A civil complaint that has been simmering between neighbors for two years was again brought in front of the board, asking for their help in resolving the dispute. The disputants were allowed time at the end of the meeting to describe their problem but no decision was made.

A condemnation order for the Plainsman Motel on US 131 to demolish it has an upcoming hearing in January, the attorney informed the board.

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