Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lake Isabella Submits Grant Applications

Today the Village of Lake Isabella submitted two grant applications totaling $184,391.  The first application was submitted this morning to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe for consideration in the spring round of semiannual 2% awards.  This application was for $167,841 for improvements to the Lake Isabella Dam and improvements to the Chippewa River between the dam and Tribal waters.  This application was submitted with the mutual support of the Lake Isabella Property Owners Association.

If funded, this project would include the following:

  • $21,975 for miscellaneous repairs to the dam.
  • $27,500 for heavy riprap channel armorment immediately downstream from the spillway.
  • $39,000 for a new sediment trap between the dam and Tribal waters.
  • $34,450 for 2 permanent monitoring stations between the dam and Tribal waters.
  • $44,916 for project mobilization and engineering.

In addition to this application, this afternoon the Village submitted a grant application to the Central Michigan District Health Department (CMDHD) for $16,550 to fund the creation of a master plan for pedestrian and biking pathways in the community.  The Village's proposal would be to use a series of design charrettes for community members to work with professional planning staff to create a rough proposal of where and what should go into making a pathway network in the community.  Once that initial design period is completed, the proposal would enter into an online refinement process.  Using a special website, the rough draft of the plan would be further vetted and improved be all interested members of the community.  

Copies of both applications can be viewed at the Village Hall, and will be included as an attachment to the Village Manager's monthly report in the next meeting packet for the Village Council.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

January's Village Council Meeting

The January meeting of the Village Council will be held on Tuesday, January 22nd at  7 PM.  The meeting location will be the Village Hall, located at 1010 Clubhouse Drive.

On the agenda this month are three public hearings, the FY 2011-2012 audit report, and two business items.

The public hearings all are for proposed ordinances.  The ordinances cover updating the Village's regulation of fireworks to reflect recent changes in state law.  An update to the regulation of fences which would increase the allowed area for rear yard fences.  And adopting regulations for accessory structures in non-residential districts.  Copies of all three ordinances can be found on the homepage of our website (

Also on the agenda this month is a presentation from Yeo & Yeo of Midland.  They have conducted the annual audit of the Village's finances and will be making their report to the Council.  A complete copy of the audit can also be found on the homepage of our website.  In addition to this audit report being online, the Village has placed every audit conducted since our incorporation online as well.  Those reports can be found on the "Financial Information" page of our website.

A complete copy of the packet is available online for the public's inspection.  During the meeting there are two places for general public comments or questions in addition to the three public hearings.  If you have any questions in advance of the meeting, we invite you to contact the Village Hall during normal business hours, or email the Village Manager at


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lake Isabella Raises Concern over Proposed County Budget

First, after taking some time off from blogging the Village would like to relaunch our blog as part of our effort to increase our communication with the community.  In the 2012-2013 Village budget funds were allocated to also begin publishing our community newsletter on a quarterly basis.  Our next newsletter installment will be around the 1st of October.

Also, to increase your ability to stay informed of the business of the Village, starting this year we have been posting all of our meeting packets online.  Please visit the "Meeting Minutes" page of our website.  On this page of our website you can also see the approved version of the minutes from Village meetings, as well as the Agenda if the minutes have not been approved yet.

At the last meeting of the Village Council, held on August 21st, the Village Council adopted a Resolution which asks our County Commissioner to reject one of the budget proposals currently on the table at the County level.  That budget proposal would eliminate funding for zoning services at the county level.  A full copy of this information can be found on pages 104 - 112 of the packet.

Below is the text of a letter that the Village sent not only to our County Commissioner, but to all members of the County Board of Commissioners.


Dear County Commissioners,

Last night our Village Council reviewed part of the proposed 2012-2013 budget for Isabella County.  The Village of Lake Isabella is understanding and sympathetic to the fiscal constraints faced by all local units of governments.  The decade long economic depression that our state has faced has tested all of us.  These times have presented all of us with challenges of providing essential public services in the leanest possible manner, and feel that Isabella County has done a fine job in that respect over the years.

With that in mind, the Village of Lake Isabella is deeply concerned about the proposal to eliminate planning and zoning services in the 2012-2013 budget.  The elimination of planning and zoning services would be detrimental not only to the 9 townships that rely on this service from Isabella County, but also for those other jurisdictions which administer and enforcement land use regulation.  Such a move on the part of Isabella County could have consequences which impact all of our local units for years to come.  We strongly urge you to continue to support planning and zoning services at the County level.

The Village is specifically concerned a likely scenario which will certainly happen in time if these services are eliminated.  While on the surface one may think that this action would impact the 9 townships presently under county zoning, but I can assure you that the impact will be far greater than that.  As one of the local units that handle our own planning and zoning we are deeply concerned that this action may leave land adjacent and abutting our incorporated boundaries unzoned and unregulated.  In such a scenario is not only possible, but likely, that in time the lack of land use control will allow the development of a nearby use which is detrimental to property values and the quality of life enjoyed by our residents.  This scenario may not happen specifically to Lake Isabella, but when you look at what areas could remain unzoned in the county and then consider the adjacent jurisdictions that are zoned the risks become clear.

Not only is there a clear risk as detailed above, but it also creates an incentive for sprawl  in these unzoned areas.  The economic impact of this action may very well come back and cost the residents of the county more in the long-term than the County government saves in the short-term. The elimination of planning and zoning services would create an imbalance in terms of economic development incentives, which would fuel and encourage development in areas where there is insufficient infrastructure to properly support said development.  If that occurs in an unzoned area there would be no site plan review process to ensure that adequate public services exist which can support the new development.  These infrastructure demands will have to be met by some local government agency, more than likely being Isabella County or the Isabella County Road Commission.

The big picture economics of this proposal also do make sense to the Village.  While in the short-term Isabella County may experience a savings of roughly $149,000 per year, over time the reduction in property values due to the improper development of the unzoned areas of Isabella County, coupled with increased infrastructure costs call into question the financial sustainability of this proposal.

The nine townships currently being served by Isabella County account for over 2.7 million dollars annually of tax revenue collected by the county and this proposed service elimination is projected to save $149,000 over a full budget year.  This savings is roughly 5.4% of the total tax collection revenue for these 9 townships.  The Village would like to strongly encourage Isabella County to consider what this action would do to the tax base of those 9 townships.  We believe that a fair case can be made that the elimination of planning and zoning services would have a negative impact on property values at a level that ultimately may end up costing the county more in the long-term in lost revenue than is gained by the staff reduction.

We strongly encourage you to carefully weight this choice.  Attached is a Resolution formally adopted by our Village Council for your consideration.  We are also open to further discussion and dialogue on how we may be of assistance to Isabella County in creating a meaningful discussion that spans jurisdictional boundaries which focuses on legitimate collaboration and long-term planning on a regional scale.



Tim Wolff
Village Manager

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fire Protection Special Assessment Hearing

Our residents that own property in Broomfield Township should be receiving a notice in the mail today for next week's public hearing for the renewal of the special assessment district which provides fire/rescue services in that portion of the Village.

This is the annual renewal of the special assessment district, and is not a new assessment or tax.  This special assessment district has been in place since around 2000, and was created at the request of Village residents living in Broomfield Township.  Broomfield Township provides fire protection coverage via the Wheatland F.D. located in Remus.  Whereas our residents that also reside in Sherman Township are serviced by the Nottawa-Sherman F.D. located in Weidman. 

Residents of both Sherman and Nottawa townships pay an additional 1 Mill for fire protection services via voter approved ballot proposals.  Our residents are able to have this coverage extended to them by paying the same Millage rate as those residents.  The only difference being that the Village acts as the collection agent and not Sherman Township.

The public hearing for the renewal is planned for next Tuesday as part of the April Village Council meeting beginning at 7 PM.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

General Public Meeting for USDA Funding

On Tuesday, March 13th the Planning Commission will hold a General Public Meeting (just another way of saying "Public Hearing") on our funding application to the USDA as part of the unbuildable lots work in southern Lake Isabella.  This is the last step in the process of submitting a completed application to the USDA for funding assistance. Our engineers will be at the meeting to give an overview of the project and estimated costs. It is our plan to have more meetings this summer after we submit the finalized application and hear back from the USDA with solid numbers on the actual funding options.

Last year the Village submitted a preliminary application to see if the project was even eligible for funding via the USDA Rural Development. The USDA responded that the project was eligible, but several items were needed on the part of the Village to finalize the application and determine if any grant funds would be available to the project. A copy of that letter is on our website at:
The USDA specifically requested that we do the following to finalize the application (see page 2 of their letter):

1. Complete an Environmental Report. This was done for the Village at no cost by the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP). A copy of the report, and the notice of the availability of the report are both on the homepage to our website.

2. Submit a draft engineering agreement. This has been done at our request by our engineering firm.

3. Hold a General Public Meeting.

All of this is part of our on-going effort to address the decades old problem of unbuildable lots in portions of the Village. In 2008 the Village undertook environmental testing in the 5 plats which had restrictions on the number of on-site well and septic systems which could be developed. That testing showed that in 2 of the plats (Lake Isabella Airpark & Canterbury Estates) the soil and groundwater conditions were suitable for further development. In one of the other three plats (Lake Isabella North) we found conditions were suitable through most of the plat. We are working on an alternative solution in that plat with the MDEQ, Isabella County, and CMDHD. The last two plats (Lake Isabella South & Lake Isabella Golf Estates II) have widespread areas where further development of on-site systems is not environmentally feasible. As both of these areas are recorded plats, we are confined to finding a solution which addresses the problem for all lots in the plat. After multiple studies (all of which can be found on our website at We have elected to pursue a STEP wastewater collection and treatment system as the idea to eventually propose to the property owners in these two plats.

The meeting on the 13th is only to satisfy our application requirements with the USDA. The Planning Commission is only receiving public comment which will be sent to the USDA, the matter will not be voted on at this time. Likewise, nothing done by the Village obligates the community to moving forward with the project or funding. It is our hope that with a finalized application, we will be able to fully present accurate cost information to the public later this year in the meetings referenced above. The Village has always maintained the position that we will only go as far as the property owners tell us to, and will not under any condition move forward without a majority of those property owners supporting the project. That phase of the project should be this summer once we have submitted a final and complete application to the USDA.