Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lost Dog Update

Our code enforcement department today found a lost dog and took it the Isabella County Animal Shelter. Here is a picture...

Lake Isabella Facebook Group

As part of our effort to become a community which embraces Web 2.0 technology, the Village has created a group of Facebook for residents to interact.

Facebook is a social networking site where users can post pictures, join groups, add much more. The free site, which has over 140 million users, has quickly become one of the webs top sites from its humble beginnings as a network for Harvard students. To access the group, you'll need a Facebook account, and then just join the group at the following link:


The intent of the group is simply to have an on-line forum for residents to interact, share pictures, and have an easy means of contact with other members of the community. For example, this past summer a resident suggested that the Village organize some means to have residents interact to car pool. With gas prices over four dollars per gallon at the time, it was a great idea. With the group on Facebook, we hope that when great ideas like this come up, residents will be able to fully capitalize on them via on-line interaction.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh the Weather Outside...

With the 9.5 inches of snow that came today, we have seen over 41 inches of snow so far this winter... Oh wait, winter actually doesn't even start until Sunday, yikes! And guess what? The following line is directly from the National Weather Service regarding our current weather pattern; "...ONE STORM COMING TO AN END WHILE ANOTHER IS ON THE WAY..."

In fact, the Grand Rapids office of the NWS has this on tap for the season change on Sunday:


It goes without saying that if this weather pattern holds from the balance of the coming winter season, we will see a winter like none in recent memory. The Village has snow records for nearly the last quarter century at Lake Isabella. Over this period, the average snow season brings us about 71 inches of the white powder. The records are 106.2 inches in 2004-2005 and 38.5 inches in 1986-1987.

With the storm coming this Sunday, we likely will be at the half-way point for our entire snow accumulation of last winter of 96.4 inches. Over the past five snow seasons, the Village received an average 99.5 inches of snow. Prior to the past five seasons, the most snow recorded during the previous 20 year span was 82.5 inches.

At this pace, with three solid months of winter ahead your guess is as good as ours on what the end number might be. With nearly three and one-half feet of snow so far, maybe this snow season we'll be counting in feet, not inches.

Another Successful Year!!

On behalf of the Village of Lake Isabella, Lake Isabella Property Owner’s Association, and United Way we would like to thank you for your generous gifts to the Adopt a Family Program. Your commitment to helping the Adopt a Family Program in our community is sincerely appreciated.

The commitment and support was overwhelming and allowed us to raise approximately $1,300 dollars this year! Your contributions allowed us to adopt two families, with a combined total of nine people, this year. Each year Village of Lake Isabella, Lake Isabella Property Owner’s Association, and United Way continues to enhance its mission of helping families in need for the holiday’s. Through the Adopt a Family Program we have seen many lives changed for the better.

The goal of the Village of Lake Isabella and Lake Isabella Property Owner’s Association is to continue to make a difference in the United Way’s Adopt a Family Program. With the sole help of donations from supporters such as you, we will continue to see improvements. Some of the highlighted gifts we were able to purchase this year included: bikes for all of the children, a Dora Kitchen, a Barbie house, a Seal-a-Meal, and a years worth of clothing for an infant, plus outfits, coats, hats, gloves and other necessities. For a complete list of purchases please contact either the Village office at 989-644-8654 or the LIPOA at 989-644-3326.

The following are a list of much appreciated donors for the 2008 Adopt a Family Program:

George and Barbara Dunn
Dave and Kathleen Ochander
Roger and Jill Kerr
Don Clynick
Marie and Thomas Kelly
Ed Nurski
Arnie and Jan Griffin
Danny and Linda Tinker
Marylyn Krueger
Georgia Warner
John and Vicki Boyd
Elmer and Joan Ledbetter
Casey and Jennifer Rau
Elizabeth Miller & Bruce LaPointe
Larry and Sue Hiither
Harry and Marge Kuhn
Dave and Denise Torgerson
John & Judy Parrot
Tim and Erika Wolff
Kent and Jessica Manley
Andy and Casey Brockdorf
Charlie and Jane Kiel
Bob and Ardith Gloden
John and Janice Terry
Warren and Nancy Spragg
Richard and Brenda Donley
Dan and Janet Grisdale
Steve and Jodi Clark
Max and Joanne Pinkney
Bob and Ann Laraway
Out of Bounds Pizza
Bella Salon
Your Gourmet Bakery

We wish to thank you again for your continued support and commitment, and hope we can continue to count on you in the future. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the Adopt a Family Program or how your fundraising donations help us. We will be happy to answer your questions.

Thanks again!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lake Isabella Adopts Rental House Licensing Program

Beginning in January 2009, all rental houses in the Village of Lake Isabella must be inspected and licensed. For several years residents have requested the Village adopt a program to inspect and license rental homes in the community. This demand caused the Village Council to look at enacting the program in 2005. At that time the Village elected to table the request as we lacked the necessary resources to properly administer the program. With the move to the new office in 2007, the Village Council was requested by the residents to review the matter again. With new facilities, the staff and Council felt the time was right to implement this program.

The Village of Lake Isabella adopted the rental house licensing program to reduce blight and ensure that livable conditions exist in rental properties through inspections that will identify and correct code violations. The basis for the Lake Isabella inspections is the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code. The adopted ordinance requires that all rentals, even seasonal or short-term, be inspected and licensed by the Code Enforcement Department. Each residential property being rented, leased, or sub-leased is required to obtain an annual license from the Village of Lake Isabella. The license shall first be applied for with an application fee of $37.50. The application shall provide times when the property may be inspected by a Village Inspection Officer, and a measured floor plan for the rental dwelling. Upon receipt of the fee and application an Inspection Officer of the Village shall arrange a time for inspection with the owner or agent of property for inspection of the following criteria.

Along with the application, a pre-inspection checklist is included for the convenience of the rental owner. This allows owners and their agents to clearly know what the minimum standards are for which the Village will be inspecting.

This program has many goals and benefits. Some of these goals are promoting safe rental housing, maintaining and increasing property values, and preserving the neighborhoods the comprise Lake Isabella. More goals and benefits along with other vital information including the Rental House License Application, the pre-Inspection Checklist, an Informational Pamphlet, a Sample License, and the full Adopted Rental Housing Code can be found on our webpage at http://www.lakeisabellami.org/CodeEnforcement-rentalhousing.htm

If you are currently renting or will be renting a home please complete and return the application before January 31, 2009. If you have any other questions on this matter please do not hesitate to call the staff at the village office at 989-644-8654.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Natural Gas Update

Work continues in the snow on the natural gas project. Crews this week are working on main installation on the local street section of Queens Way and pressurizing the next section of main to get gas. This section from the intersection of Queens Way and El Camino Grande to Bundy Drive, is still shown on the map below in blue as has not been "gassed." The Map below shows in green what areas have been fully installed with gas, and what areas only have the main installed in blue.

Crews are also continuing to install service lines along the mains in Isabella North. Several homes along El Camino Grande and Isabella Vista have already been serviced.

DTE did let our office know that they are drafting a letter to update residents on the progress and reassure they are working through the weather to complete the project.

Recycling Update

Looking to drop off your used household batteries? You can do that simply by stopping by the Village Hall. The container above is a new addition to the office just for that. Household battery recycling is offered free of charge in Isabella County. Batteries can be dropped off at the MRF in Mount Pleasant, or now at your local Village Hall in the container that looks a little like a Duracell battery (we tried).

Please take notice that the second pick-up this month for curbside recycling will be a day early. We will be collecting on Monday (12/22) and Tuesday (12/23) not Wednesday (which happens to be Christmas Eve.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008 Adopt-A-Family

As we look outside and see the temperature and snow falling, it reminds us of the up coming holidays. Most of us can remember the joys the holidays would bring us as a child. Sweet treats, family and friends and for most of us the early waking on Christmas morning to see a tree that looks like it had been blessed by angels. These were the thoughts behind the Village and Lake Isabella Property Owners Association’s offices adopting a family for the holiday.

In prior years the two offices would enjoy a pot luck lunch and exchange small gifts with one another. We enjoyed the break from work to spend in the company of coworkers who have in turn become friends. In 2004, we decided we would like to do something special thus putting into motion a magnificent chain of events.

We remembered hearing about local businesses adopting families through United Way for the holidays and decided to look into it. What we encountered was a list of over 650 individuals in need of help for the holidays. These families were referred to United Way by outside agencies such as Red Cross, Family Independence Agency, Schools, and Churches. After looking through the families we chose a family of three. We received a small bio on the family and a wish list for each member. We grew very excited knowing how we were going to be able to help give a family a joyous reason to celebrate the holidays with fond memories.

As the offices talked about the things they wanted to buy for the families, our respected board members caught wind of our actions and collectively decided they would like to join in. By doing this it enabled us to adopt a second family. This one being a family of seven. We raised enough money from board members and office staff to provide both families with an exceptional holiday.

We have since continued this tradition and took it one step further to include our community. It is with all of our efforts that this endeavor grows more successful with each passing year. We could not adopt two and three families without the constant support of our esteemed residents of Lake Isabella, our respected board and council members, plus the help of local businesses who let us place donation cans at their location for those contributors who like to stay anonymous. Below are two charts one showing how many lives we’ve helped and the other showing how much this fascinating event has grown monetarily at Lake Isabella.

This year the LIPOA and the Village have once again joined with United Way to help local residents have a happier holiday. We thank you in advance for your dedication to improving our neighbor’s lives and giving a little extra in the spirit of the holidays this season. Remember all donations to this event are tax deductible. If you are interested in helping out please contact Jessica (through the Village office) at 989-644-8654 or Casey (through the LIPOA office) at 989-644-3326. Wishing all of you a warm and happy winter season!!

Noise violators in Fort Lupton sentenced to listen to Barry Manilow

Reposted from the Rocky Mountain News...

FORT LUPTON, CO — Barry Manilow's "I Write the Songs" may begin with the line, "I've been alive forever,'" but for noise ordinance violators, listening to Manilow may feel like forever.
Fort Lupton Municipal Judge Paul Sacco says his novel punishment of forcing noise violators to listen to music they don't like for one hour has cut down on the number of repeat offenders in this northwestern Colorado prairie town.

About four times a year, those guilty of noise ordinance violations are required to sit in a room and listen to music from the likes of Manilow, Barney the Dinosaur, and The Platters' crooning "Only You."

"These people should have to listen to music they don't like," said Judge Paul Sacco for a segment about the program that aired Friday on Denver's KUSA-TV. Sacco began the program years ago when he noticed that many of the repeat offenders simply showed up at his courtroom to pay their fine with cash.

"Most kids don't want to hear somebody like Glenn Close trying to sing opera," he said.
Video of a recent class showed teenagers with long faces shifting in their seats or looking up at the ceiling.

"You can't fall asleep," said teenager Rueben Fuentes right before letting out a bit of a sigh.
Members of a garage band were at the class after playing music late at night in their backyard.
"The cop station was two blocks away," said band member Robert Mort. "People who were at the party loved it. I'm not sure the cops did."

"Too much music, too loud, too late," added band member Harrison DeRuiter.

So what does Sacco think of Barry Manilow? "I actually don't think Manilow's too bad," he said.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Closing in on 100K

Since the launch of our expanded website in October 2005, we have had nearly 100,000 page requests. As our site has continued to expand with new features such as; parcel and tax information, plat maps, videos, and the blog, traffic has increased.

From November 2005 through October 2006 we recorded 17,731 page hits. Then from November 2006 through October 2007 that number more than doubled to 36,796. For the same 12 month period of November through October that just passed, traffic increased to 43,287. That is a nearly 20% increase from the previous year, and a 250% increase from our first year online.

What is more telling is that for the entire span of November 2005 through October 2007 (24 months) we only had 6 months with more than 3,000 page requests. For this past year we had 8 months of over 3,000 page requests, with over 5,600 in July alone.

Here is the real question though, how we can improve the site to your advantage? Your input is very welcome as our goal with our e-government is simply to better serve you. Feel free to post your comments, e-mail them, send them via snail-mail, or simply stop by the office.

And most importantly, thank you for visiting us on-line!

Friday, November 7, 2008

DTE Gas Project Update November 7th

Work along El Camino Grande is nearly finished. It is expected that next week once the service mains for Iberian, Cantabrian, and Isabella Vista are tied into he El Camino Main gas will be pumped into the system. That means the first connections will be happening shortly thereafter! Next week work will continue along Cantabrian, Isabella Vista, and Queens Way. The map below shows the progress to date.

The speed of the project is also expected to increase as an additional crew will be arriving to help and most of the 4" and 6" service mains have been installed. The 4" and 6" mains come in long sections that have to be fused together, which takes additional time and equipment. The size of the pipe also requires greater work than the smaller service mains which will service the side streets in the Village. This smaller main comes in 300' long rolls and is able to be installed quicker. In fact, some of it has already been installed on Cantabrian and Iberian.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Lake Isabella has set the official hours for Trick-or-Treating as 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM on Halloween.

Whoa, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM you say, that's awfully stinking early! In years past the Village's hours were always 5 PM to 7 PM, why the change?

The answer is pretty simple. One thing that area residents have expressed a strong desire for is preserving the view of the night's sky. Over the years the Village has worked hard in support of that goal and has limited streetlight placement and this summer adopted a light pollution ordinance. One of the side of the effects of protecting the great nightime views is the lack of streetlights on our side streets. When this is coupled with the lack of sidewalks and other pedestrian friendly features, we felt that it was important to set hours when there is sufficient light in order to keep the evening fun and safe for everyone.

Once you get done at Lake Isabella, there will still be time left in the night to enjoy trick-or-treating in other Isabella County communiteis. If you plan to take your children to Mount Pleasant or Beal City, their hours are 6 PM to 8 PM. Shepherd is 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.

No matter where you go, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries after dark.
  • Always trick or treat in groups, accompanied by an adult.
  • Plan your route ahead of time.
  • Stay on the sidewalks (if any) and out of the streets. Cross only at intersections and designated crosswalks.
  • Walk. No running.
  • Walk with your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Only visit well lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses.
  • Don't enter any houses unless you know the people.
  • Carry a spare Halloween bag -- in case yours breaks or you fill your original one.
  • Don't approach unfamiliar pets and animals.
  • Don't cut across yards and stay out of back yards.
  • Always watch for cars backing up or turning.
  • Never accept rides from strangers.
  • Respect other people and their property.
  • Be polite and say "thank you."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Natural Gas Update October 17th

Over the hills and through the woods... actually under the pond is the way to go! This week the gas main was successfully installed under Mill Pond. The main has made it all the way to the School Road/Coldwater Road intersection, as seen on the map below.

In other project news, the Village has invited DTE to give an update at our Council meeting this Tuesday. This is the same update given at the LIPOA meeting earlier this month. If you have any questions, please feel free to attend the meeting.

Two common questions have been asked of our office this week. The first, is where is the gas main going? The areas where the white flags were placed is the location of the main. The Village is not requiring DTE to stay at the edge of the right-of-way/property line. We have granted permission to use our right-of-way from the middle of the ditch back. In doing so, we hope to avoid issues with damage to trees, private property, and not delay them further in their progress.

The other common question is, I sent my money in and haven't heard back from them. To our knowledge there is not a formal reply letter once your application is accepted.

Finally, the last day to be a part of this project for this winter is Saturday, October 25th. DTE must have your application and payment by that date.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Natural Gas Project Update 10/14

Work continues to bring the gas main from the Weidman Gate Station to Lake Isabella. Below is a map showing where the main has been installed along this route in green. The area in red shows areas along the route yet to be installed. Crews today were working on the directional bore under Mill Pond and along School Road near the Elementary School. MISS-DIG crews were also out flagging areas along Coldwater and School Roads in advance of the gas main.

While this part of the project involves only 1/4 of the total project in terms of gas main, it does have one of the largest engineering issues to tackle. In order for the gas main to reach Lake Isabella, the main has to be directionally bored under Mill Pond north of Weidman.

Directional boring, commonly called horizontal directional drilling, is a steerable trenchless method of installing underground pipes, conduits and cables in a shallow arc along a prescribed bore path by using a surface launched drilling rig, with minimal impact on the surrounding area. Directional boring is used when trenching or excavating is not practical. Directional boring minimizes environmental disruption. It is suitable for a variety of soil conditions and jobs including road, landscape and river crossings. Installation lengths up to 6,500’ (2,000m) have been completed, and diameters up to 56" (1,200mm) have been installed in shorter runs. Pipes can be made of materials such as PVC, polyethylene, Ductile iron, and steel if the pipes can be pulled through the drilled hole.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Website Additions & Web 2.0

This afternoon the Village made two updates to our website. This is part of our effort to bring you an even better experience for your e-government needs. In the larger sense, the Village plans to build into our website features embracing Web 2.0 concepts. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0)

"Web 2.0 is a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, secure information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and its hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. The term became notable after the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users utilize the Web."

Lake Isabella is already out in front in terms of Web 2.0 application with this blog, our YouTube videos, and information on our website such as taxes, ordinances, minutes, and much more. Municipal websites have traditionally been designed and geared toward one-way communication. Using Web 2.0 concepts, the Village's goal is to greatly increase the two-way communication in the electronic medium.

Today's updates include the ability to view and print the various Plat Maps of the community, and an additional video from our summer fireworks. A very common occurrence in our office is a request to get a map of a property. With the maps online, it is our hope that people will be able to access this information in a convenient manner any time or place they need it.

We welcome your feedback, are they any features to our site that you would like to see improved or added? If so, please let us know.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Natural Gas Project Update: October 7th

Well folks, construction has begun on the natural gas project. When the project was originally approved by the Village, it was anticipated that construction would begin in early September. That start date was delayed for nearly a month as DTE/MichCon had not been granted the final approval of the Michigan Public Service Commission. As of last week, the MPSC had granted approval for the project to begin.

Presently work is underway north of Wiedman. It is expected that the gas main will reach the Coldwater/El Camino Grande intersection around October 22nd. DTE/MichCon has informed the Village that gas will be in the main as far as the last valve. This means residents will be able to connect very shortly after the main is in front of their house. Below are several pictures from this morning showing the work underway.

Finally, the massive pile of pipe is slowly shrinking. At the present stage in the project, the sub-contractor (Kent Power) is installing the 6" main from the Weidman Gate Station. This 6" pipe will run nearly 4.4 miles to the Coldwater/El Camino Grande intersection to service the Village. In speaking with DTE/MichCon about the project schedule, it is now planned to have all customers serviced and the all personnel out of the Village by the end of November.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Walkers & Bikers Need Apply!

This past week the Planning Commission formed a special sub-committee to work together with the LIPOA to generate a Master Plan for walking/biking paths in the community. Of the 7 members on the committee, 2 will be from the Planning Commission, 2 from the LIPOA, and 3 from the community at large.

If this sounds like a project you would be interested in being a part of, please contact the Village Hall.

The goal of the committee would be to develop and identify the best areas in the community to build such a trail. Increasing the walkability of Lake Isabella will be no small project. With over 900 homes, 27 miles of streets, and a lake/river in the middle lots of work will need to be done to ensure that the end project is one that our community can take pride in.

In other news, the Village has a new e-mail address (office@lakeisabellami.org).

Finally, the Village, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Central Michigan District Health Department, and Rowe Inc. spent this week conducting soil tests in the five plats with restrictions to on-site well and septic systems. In total 134 test holes were dug in these five plats. Work will begin next week in logging the data to produce a report on the findings. That report will also likely include a recommendation on the restrictions in these five plats. Once the report is finalized, look for a press release and a copy of the report on our website.

Thank you again to everyone who allowed us to test on their property. The project ran very smoothly and we feel that a significant first step has been taken on this issue.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lost & Found Lab/Mix

FYI, if you are missing a young male black lab/mix in the area of Fairway Drive, he was taken to the Isabella County Animal Shelter today. For more information on the animal please visit our website at the following link... http://www.lakeisabellami.org/CodeEnforcement.htm

Friday, August 8, 2008

In the event of a tie...

With the Primary Election done, and the General Election ahead, ever wonder what happens in the event of a tie? While every vote counts, in some races a sinlge vote makes all the difference. This week's primary vote ended in ties in two races across the state. According the AP, here is what happened...

The voters spoke, but in the end, the results of two Michigan elections came down to fate.
Timothy Parker was elected a Sterling Heights precinct delegate Friday after a county official drew a slip of paper reading "elected" on his behalf.

Parker tied Mark Valente Jr. at 16 votes apiece in the primary on Tuesday.

Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh previously flipped a coin to decide who would draw first.

Earlier Friday morning, Melonie Arbogast won the Democratic nomination for Blue Lake Township treasurer by drawing the lucky slip of paper.

She and her opponent, Deborah Therrian, tied at 87 votes each in Tuesday's primary.

Therrian filed for a recount immediate after the drawing was conducted by the Muskegon County clerk's office.

Yes folks, this is the bon-a-fide truth. In 2008 elections in the State of Michigan that end in a tie are settled by two slips of paper... one saying "elected," the "not elected."

Codified and on-line

All three of the ordinances adopted at the July meeting have been codified and are now on-line on our website. Next week the Village will be updating our zoning application to reflect the zoning changes adopted in July.

Don't forget that at the August meeting the Council will be conducting a public hearing on the proposed ordinance to allow single parcel special assessment districts. This ordinances comes after discussion on what measure the Village can take to recover costs in correcting nuisance problems that parcels owners refuse to correct. By and large, this deals with the issue of lawns that haven't been mowed. In the month of July, the Village issued 17 correction notices for long weeds and grass. Most get corrected in a timely manner, but some do not.

Speaking of ordinances, this one is too good not to share. The City of Denver has adopted a new ordinance in advance of the Democratic National Convention... The story from the Rocky Mountain News is as follows:

Poo and pee dominated a public hearing Monday on a new law that prohibits people from carrying certain items if they intend to use them for nefarious purposes. The law, crafted in advance of the Democratic National Convention, was adopted unanimously by the City Council.

But not before a hearing laced with comedy and profanity.

Representatives from some of the groups planning large-scale protests during the DNC this month said the ordinance was unnecessary and accused city officials of fear mongering.
"The intent of this ordinance is to try to smear protesters and make them look as if they are somehow criminal or somehow going to engage in some kind of gross conduct," said Glenn Spagnuolo, an organizer with the Re- create 68 Alliance.

The ordinance makes it illegal to carry certain items, such as chains, padlocks, carabiners and other locking devices. It also prohibits the possession of noxious substances. Two of the most frequently used examples of a noxious substance are a bucket of urine and a "feces bomb."


Friday, August 1, 2008

FYI... Lock Your Car Doors

Last night the village saw a handfull of vehicles broken into across the Village. As such, we recommend that you park inside if possible. If you can't park inside, at least lock your doors and park in a well illuminated area.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Council-Manager Form of Government

This year the government model of “Council-Manager” celebrates its 100th birthday. The first City Manager position was created in 1908 in the town of Staunton, VA. On April 2, of that year Charles E. Ashburner was hired as the general manager of the town. Mr. Ashburner of Richmond, VA was selected over several other candidates to fill the position. An engineer by profession until that point, Ashburner would go on to manage communities in Ohio, Virginia, and California.

In present day Isabella County, this form of government is utilized by not only Lake Isabella, but also the City of Mount Pleasant, Isabella County, and the City of Clare. The managers of all four of these units of government also happen to be members of the Internation City/County Manager’s Association.

The ICMA was founded in 1914. At that time only 32 communities in the US and Canada has adopted the council-manager form of government. Today the ICMA claims over 8,000 members world-wide. In the US, the council-manager form of government is the most common form of government in communities of 2,500 or more. According to the ICMA, since 1990 over 1,100 communities had adopted this form of government. As of 2007, 49% of the communities in the US over 2,500 in population used this style of government. 43.5% used the strong mayor form of government, while 7.5% had other forms of government.

According to Wikipedia…The council-manager government is one of two main variations of representative municipal government in the United States. This system of government is used in the majority of American cities with populations over 12,000. (for contrast, see mayor-council government).

In the council-manager form of government, an elected city council (typically between five and 11 people) is responsible for making policy, passing ordinances, voting appropriations, and having overall supervisory authority in the city government. In such a government, the mayor (or equivalent executive) will perform strictly ceremonial duties or will act as a member and presiding officer of the council, similar to a chairman. The council will appoint a city manager or administrator who will be responsible for supervising government operations and implementing the policies adopted by the council. The manager serves the council, usually with a contract that specifies duties and responsibilities. Ideally, the manager is apolitical, but this is often difficult.

Municipal governments are usually administratively divided into several departments, depending on the size of the city. Though cities differ in the division of responsibility, the typical arrangement is to have the following departments handle the following roles:

  • Economic development and tourism
  • Public works - construction and maintenance of all city-owned or operated assets, including the water supply system, sewer, streets, stormwater, snow removal, street signs, vehicles, buildings, land, etc.
  • Parks and recreation - construction and maintenance of city parks, common areas, parkways, publicly-owned land, operation of various recreation programs and facilities
  • Emergency medical services
  • Planning & Zoning (Community Development)
  • Police & Fire (Public Safety)
  • Emergency management
  • Accounting/finance - often tax collection, audits
  • Human resources - for city workers
  • Legal counsel/risk management - legal matters such as writing municipal bonds, ensuring city compliance with state and federal law, responding to citizen lawsuits stemming from city actions or inactions.
  • Transportation (varies widely) - if the city has a municipal bus or light rail service, this function may be its own department or it may be folded into the another of the above departments.
  • Information technology - supports computer systems used by city employees; may be also responsible for a city website, phones and other systems.
  • Housing department
The council-manager system can be seen to place all power into the hands of the legislative branch. However, a city manager can be seen as a similar role to that of corporate chief executive officer (CEO) in providing professional management to an organization. Council-manager government is much like a publicly-traded corporation. In a corporation, the board of directors appoints a CEO, makes major decisions and wields representative power on behalf of shareholders. In council-manager government, the city council appoints a city manager, makes major decisions, and wields representative power on behalf of the citizens.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Guess Who is Coming to Town...

Guess who is coming to Lake Isabella, actually what is coming to Lake Isabella...

If you guessed Michigan Consolidated Gas, you are correct! Yes, it is true, the DTE natural gas project is "a go." The first pre-construction meeting was held this afternoon at the Village Hall with members of DTE/MichCon, Rowe Incorporated, the Village, and the LIPOA in attendance. The meeting covered many of the preliminary information for constructing the project. Two main issues stressed by the Village were protecting the streets and paved driveways in the Village, and ensuring that where yards are disturbed proper restoration is completed. In summary, there is a lot of work ahead for all of the stakeholders, the first of which is staking out the right-of-way areas in the service areas.

If you have traveled down El Camino Grande in the last 2 days, you may have noticed the flagging done at the edge of the right-of-way. El Camino Grande and Queens Way both are wide ROWs being 80 feet, rather than the normal 66 feet. In addition to the ROW area, many of the plats in the Village have an additional 15' public utility easement along the front lot lines.

This project will be one of the largest, if not the largest under taken by Michigan Consolidated Gas this year. The total project, including service mains from the current Weidman sub-station, will total nearly 100,000 feet of pipe. For comparison purposes, last year our local streets paving project covered about 70,000 linear feet of paving.

If you haven't signed up for the project and still want to, you can do so at anytime. Information is available on our website, and also at the Village Hall.

Monday, July 21, 2008

4 Ordinaces Adopted this past Tuesday

At the regular Village Council meeting this past week, the Village Council adopted 4 new ordinances, and introduced a fifth ordinance. The adopted and introduced ordinances reflect the body of work of the Planning Commission since August 2007, and continue to implement the goals of the Village's Master Plan. The ordinances are as follows:

Ordinance 2008-02 (Effective 7/30/2008): This ordinance is a comprehensive update to the Village's zoning code. While there are numerous changes in the 170+ pages of the zoning code, the major changes are as follows:
  • Fertilizer requirements have been changed from low-phosphorus to non-phosphorus.
  • All new commercial development will be required to have hard surfaced drives and parking areas, and be located on a hard surfaced street.
  • Design requirements in the Multi-Family Residential District have been added.
  • New zoning districts and design standards for the commercial areas in and around Coldwater Road.
  • Updated structure requirements in the LR-1 and LR-2 districts. This includes width to length ratio and requiring new development to have an attached garage.
Ordinance 2008-03 (Effective 7/23/2008): This ordinance updates the regulations of the Village's general nuisance provisions. Included in this update are several areas of regulation (Signs, Land Divisions, Vehicles, and Pools) which were previously located in the zoning code. By including these regulations in a general police power ordinance the Village will be better able to regulate and address areas which may have been grandfathered by a zoning ordinance.

Ordinance 2008-04 (Effective 7/23/2008): This ordinance establishes a residential rental properly inspection and licence program. Under this ordinance any residential rental property will be required to undergo an annual inspection and license.

Ordinance 2008-05 (Effective 7/23/2008): This ordinance approves a 30 year non-exclusive natural gas franchise for Michigan Consolidated Gas.

Ordinance 2008-06 (Public Hearing scheduled for August 19, 2008): This ordinance will allow the Village to establish single-lot special assessment districts. The purpose of which is to allow the Village to recover costs incurred if the Village is forced to take corrective action on a property in violation.

Copies of all of the above ordinances are on the website for your review. If you have any questions, feel free to call the office.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birdie Drive Spoils Improve Baseline Road

This week the Village's primary street maintenance contractor, Wilcox Excavating, was hard at work taking the spoils from the Birdie Drive project of this spring and reshaping portions of Baseline Road. This spring when several sections of Birdie Drive were fixed, the spoiled base materials ended up in several piles at our lagoon property. This material made largely of road gravel, has been reused to help improve areas of Baseline Road which are maintenance issues.

Tuesday is our regular monthly Village Council meeting. The agenda has been posted on our website and at the Village Hall. This meeting will also include 4 public hearings for proposed ordinances. Drafts of the proposed ordinances can also be downloaded from our website.

Once again thank you to all who helped with the fireworks. We are still short on our fund raising goal, if you haven't made a donation to help cover the cost of the event, please consider it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Still the Lowest...

In light of our recent mailing of the summer tax bills, the Village has checked into what other incorporated communities in mid-Michigan levy for their operating Millage. For the 2008 tax year, the Village of Lake Isabella had a collection of 0.8463 Mill.

Municipality................ Millage........... Tax Bill (50k SEV)
City of Mount Pleasant..... 14.14 Mills...................$706.80
Village of Shepherd............12.00 Mills..................$557.68
City of Alma........................16.59 Mills...................$829.50
City of Saint Louis..............13.41 Mills...................$670.50
City of Clare........................17.50 Mills...................$875.00
City of Ithaca.....................14.03 Mills....................$701.50
Village of Breckenridge.....17.60 Mills...................$880.00
Village of Farwell..................7.98 Mills...................$399.00
Village of Edmore...............12.52 Mills...................$626.00
Village of Barryton.................9.5 Mills...................$475.00
Village of Rosebush................3.0 Mills..................$150.00
LAKE ISABELLA..................0.85 Mill.....................$42.32

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Check out the Fireworks on YouTube

Right from our homepage and also via YouTube, we have posted the final three and a half minutes of the fireworks show last night. We have a few more clips that we are working on and hope to have them all up soon.

Once again, thank you to all who donated, and everyone who helped with the show, it was an awesome night!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Village Hall Closed...

Our office will be closed on Friday, July 4th to observe Independence Day. Our office will also be closed on Monday, July 7th. It isn't a holiday, both of our office employees (myself and Jessica) had made plans and are using vacation time. We will re-open for regular business on Tuesday morning.

The weather is looking great for our fireworks on Saturday night. We are launching from the dam again this year. Also on Saturday, the LIPOA is hosting a 5k run and 2k walk.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pure Michigan

In case you haven't come across them yet, the folks at Travel Michigan have hit a real "home run" with their latest ad campaign. The "Pure Michigan" ads invoke a nostalgic sense of what it means to live and play in our great state. Each ad focuses on a different niche as to what makes Michigan such a great place. For example the first one listed on michigan.org is titled "The Potential of Water."

Other ads focus on golf, agricultural, and the unique names found across the state. Whatever it is that you connect to on a personal level as to why you still call Michigan home, is likely to be in at least one of the spots. Perhaps it is because in a way you can connect to most of the spots. Not only is the message very well done, the imagery in the ads is also excellent.

If you have a few free minutes I invite you to check it out for yourself at... http://www.michigan.org/Topics/Pure-Michigan-Ads/Default.aspx

Monday, June 30, 2008

Natural Gas Project Update Press Release

The Village of Lake Isabella would like to provide a brief update on the status of the proposed DTE/MichCon natural gas project. In early June, representatives of DTE/MichCon did a door-to-door literature drop to nearly 600 homes in the village that they are considering for natural gas service. Since this initial contact by DTE/MichCon, four informational meetings were held at the Village Hall, and a proposed Franchise Agreement with the Village has been proposed to the Village Council. All of these documents, including a proposed service area map, can be found on the Village’s website.

In order for the project to move forward, two hurdles must be met. First, the Village of Lake Isabella must take formal action on the proposed Franchise Agreement. The agreement has a public hearing scheduled for the July 15th regular Village Council meeting. After the public hearing, the Village Council can take action on the proposed agreement that same night. This same agreement was recently approved by Broomfield Township.

The other hurdle is yet to be met is the number of residents signing up for the project. DTE/MichCon needs at least 50% of the homes in the proposed service area to agree to service before they will begin constructing the service lines. The proposed service area of nearly 600 homes has seen about 90 of the 600 home owners already signup. This roughly 30% of the total number needed for the project to begin.

In order for the project to be completed by the start of this heating season, DTE/MichCon will need to reach the 50% mark by July 30th. DTE/MichCon has recently mailed out a letter to everyone in the proposed service area regarding the status of the project. Since the mailing, an additional 50 home owners have signed up, but the goal is still far from being met. If you are in the proposed project area and need more information for your consideration, please call the Village Hall for additional DTE/MichCon contact information.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Your Photos are Wanted!

The Village is looking for your best photos of the community. We recently added to our office a flatscreen message board with a rolling powerpoint of news and pictures of the community. We need your help to make it reflect the true beauty of the community. Please consider submitting your favorite pictures to the Village Hall. Proper credit will be given for all submissions!


2008 Summer Tax bills were mailed today. If you have any questions please call the office or your township assessor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Final DTE Meeting Tonight!

Tonight is the last of the four scheduled informational meetings with DTE for the natural gas project. The meeting will be at 7PM at the Village Hall. Information about the project can be found on our homepage.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Committee Openings

The Village is accepeting applications for appointment to the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeal, TSI Committee, and Airport Board.

Applications can be obtained at the Village Hall, or on our website.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Free to a Good Home...

Free to a good home... or a bad home for that matter, wood chips! As you might have read in the Morning Sun yesteday a large load of wood chips was illegally dumped at the intersection of Baseline and School Roads. If you need some wood chips please help yourself.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


We are back. In recent wave of thunderstorms that has pounded across the region, our office was hit by lightning. Last Thursday, as the first wave of bad weather arrived, a bright flash and a loud boom was felt around noon at the Village Hall. Within seconds the Internet had died. After the weather passed, we contacted ISP Management only to find that there was not an outage in the area.

Servicemen from ISP arrived on Friday, only as the second wave of storms appeared, forcing them to come back on Monday afternoon. Upon their inspection, they found that indeed the Internet antenna on our roof had been hit. The surge traveled down the power line and also knocked out our power supply for the antenna.

Thankfully last year when we built the new building, we spent the extra $200 and installed a system wide surge suppressor on the main breaker-box. As such, nothing else in the building even blinked.

Since our last post, three items of note have developed.

First, last Friday staff form DTE Energy/MichCon walked the streets of northern Lake Isabella and did a literature drop. The lit-drop covered their proposed natural gas project for the north and northwestern sections of Lake Isabella. More information on the project, including a map of the proposed service area can be viewed at our homepage (www.lakeisabellami.org).

Second, the Zoning Board of Appeals held their regular monthly meeting on Monday night. At the meeting 2 cases were heard. The Board denied a request by a home owner on El Camino Grande to keep a 64' HD antenna that was built in late April without zoning approval. The Board then granted a front yard variance for lot in Lake Isabella North at the end of Cantabrian Drive. Minutes of the meeting are posted on our website.

Finally, the Planning Commission held their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday. At the meeting the Commission recommended to the Village Council adoption of a comprehensive zoning code update. The draft, which is also posted on our website on the "ordinance page," will be introduced this month with a public hearing in July.

Next week is the regular monthly meeting of the Village Council. The agenda for the meeting has been posted on our website. With one exception the drafts of all 4 ordinances scheduled for introduction at this month's meeting are available on our website. The last draft will be posted on Friday.

Don't forget that our summer fireworks are coming on July 5th! Donations are still being accepted and are needed! For more information please visit our office or website.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thank You

I want to give a special thank you to the observant resident who saved the American flag at the Village office. On Monday morning we arrived to find a plastic Meijer bag tied to the flag pole. Inside was none other than the flag. The rope had snapped sometime during the weekend causing the flag to fall to the ground.

Thank you again!

Our newsletter goes to the printer on Friday, with any luck, they should have it in the mail by the following Friday.

Next week has 2 meetings and 3 public hearings scheduled for the Village. On Monday, the Zoning Board of Appeals meets at 5PM, and will hold 2 public hearings for variance requests. On Tuesday, the Planning Commission meets and will be holding a public hearing on the proposed update to the zoning code. This is actually the second time the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on this ordinance draft. If you have any questions, please feel free to call the office.
The Isabella County Road Commission should be done with their work on Coldwater Road by the end of this week. The ICRC has contracted a treatment known as "chip-seal" be done on Coldwater Road from M-20 north to School Road. According to the online reference site wikipedia... "Chip-seal is a pavement surface treatment. In the US, chip seals are typically used on rural roads carrying lower traffic volumes. In Australia and New Zealand, chipsealing is referred to as a "sprayed seal" and is used on a larger percentage of roads, both rural and urban. It is cheaper, but not as long lasting, than resurfacing an asphalt concrete or a Portland Cement Concrete pavement. It can keep good pavement in good condition by sealing out water, but provides no structural strength and will only repair minor cracks. While the small stones used as surface yield a relatively even surface without the edges of patches, it also results in a very rough surface that leads to significantly louder rolling noises of automobile wheels."

Oh, and in case you went to bed early, the Wings won the Cup tonight!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Newsletter Coming Soon

Early next week the Village will be taking a copy of our next hard-print newsletter to our printer. Included in the edition will be the update on the unbuildable lots mailing, Master Plan progress report, and many more stories and tid-bits.

As a reader of our blog you'll probably recognize several of the stories that will be featured in the hard-print edition.

Tonight at the Village Hall we are hosting a pilot's safety program presented by the Michigan Department of Transportation. We expect around 20 local pilots to attend the safety presentation.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Desperate Times?

Earlier this month a package of bills were introduced by State Senator Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac) dealing with transportation funding. One of these bills is Senate Bill 1322, co-sponsored by Senator Alan Cropsey whose district includes the Village of Lake Isabella.

Senate bill 1322 calls for the mandated consolidation of all city and village road agencies which receive less than $250,000 in revenue from the state tax on gas and diesel into their respective county road commissions. In case you are wondering, the Village of Lake Isabella receives around $150,000 a year from the State, so it would apply to us. In Isabella County, this proposed bill would also apply to the Village of Shepherd and Village of Rosebush. If enacted, the only road agencies in Isabella County would be the Isabella County Road Commission, City of Mount Pleasant, and MDOT.

It was just 10 years ago last month that the Village of Lake Isabella was incorporated. Two of the primary reasons that incorporation was proposed were for control over zoning, and control over our roads. If enacted into law, SB 1322 would send the Village back to the days of pre-incorporation by turning jurisdiction of our 27+ miles of streets over to the Isabella County Road Commission.

With 2008 being an election year and the legislature having split chambers, the prospects of legislation which makes significant changes to the governmental structure are low, but then again anything can happen. The legislation is ultimately a product of the problem which is facing our state’s entire transportation system... money. The money that local governmental units receive from the state to maintain street networks are a share of the tax revenue from the state’s 19 cent per gallon tax on gasoline and 15 cent per gallon tax on diesel. Close to 22% of the funds generated from this tax go directly back to cities and villages, 39% go to the county road commissions, and the rest is of course kept by the State. This formula is established by Public Act 51 of 1951. (As a historical side note; Harry Truman was President, and planning was in the early stages for the Mackinaw Bridge in 1951.)

The funding formula for all local agencies is based on a shrinking pool of revenue, in a sea of expanding costs and demands. With the price of gasoline about to crest the $4/gallon mark, more and more people buying fuel efficient vehicles, and in turn driving less, the pool is only going to shrink further in terms of revenue generated from a gallon by gallon tax. The Village of Lake Isabella 2008-2009 fiscal year budget projects that our funding from the State, via Act 51, will shrink to under $150,000 a year for the foreseeable future. This is down from over $171,000 in the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Since that time the cost to maintain infrastructure has increased dramatically. Our situation is far from unique, and it is this reality which has been a driving force to adopt better management practices across the state, such as our PASER system.

It is in light of this reality that SB 1322 and the other bills in this package are born from. There are tough choices ahead for all levels of government in terms of providing essential services in the most cost efficient manner. As a matter of policy, the Village of Lake Isabella will be sending notice to the members of the Senate’s Transportation Committee and the Michigan Municipal League of our opposition to this bill. While we are open to options in terms of cost savings, it is our position that losing control over our streets is not the first step in solving this problem.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Village Manager's Report

Village Manager’s Report
♦ May 2008 ♦

LSSAPP Punch List
We have done stage 1 of the finishing spots on the LSSAPP project. I will be doing a walk through the week of June 9th with Rowe Incorporated for the final list. If you have, or know of anyone, with an issue that want to have addressed, please contact me ASAP. The additional cul-de-sac paving was completed last week, and we have recieved positive feedback for doing this.
Stage 1 of the Birdie Drive/Clubhouse Drive rehab project was compelted on Monday.

June ZBA Meeting
The ZBA will be hearing an appeal for 2 variances on June 9th. Variance request #1 is to allow a 66' communication tower/antena to remain on El Camino Grande. It is a violation of the zoning code for a communication tower to be located in the LR1 district, or for an antena to be over 35'. Variance #2 is for a front yard setback of only 20 feet at 1038 Cantabrian. This is a vacant lot at the end of Cantabrian next to Termino Park. The normal setback is 35'.

Revenue Sharing
I have had 2 meetings in Lansing with Sen. Cropsey’s office regarding our revenue sharing situation. He plans to approach Sen. John Poppageorge about the situation this week. Sen. Poppageorge is the de-facto expert in the Senate on this matter, and if Sen. Poppageorge supports Sen. Cropsey and us, we stand a good chance at finally getting statutory dollars.

In a Village-to-Village compairison of how Lake Isabella stacks up in terms of revenue sharing dollars, our projected state FY 2009 capture of $84,535 places us in the same dollar capture neighborhood of the Village of Merill and Village of Farwell which have populations of around 800. Our 2000 census number was 1,248. For Villages of our same population in the state, the average statutory capture is nearly $40,000.

Truck Routes Posted
The "No Trucks" signs have been posted at El Camino Grande, local section o Queens Way, and Fairway Drive. A courtesy letter was sent out to several companies that will be effected by this. A complete copy of the ordinance can be found at... http://www.lakeisabellami.org/Code-664.pdf

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Birdie Drive Rehab Work to Begin Friday May 16th

For those of you who reside on the south side of the Village, you will get to dodge the orange barrels for the next week along Birdie Drive. Central Asphalt is set to begin work the morning of Friday, May 16th.

Birdie Drive and Clubhouse Drive from Birdie Drive to Channel Drive are the lowest scored Major Streets per our PASER ratings. The Village’s capital improvement plan calls for numerous spot fixes to these streets over the next 6 years with the end result being a road surface and based ready for a final overlay of asphalt. In the 2007-08 Fiscal Year, the Village allocated funds to address the intersection with Coldwater Road and the two sections of the east bound lane that have completely failed. This is the initial stages set to begin on Friday. In the upcoming fiscal year starting July 1st, an additional $25,000 has been budgeted towards the next sections for rehab.

Work is to begin this Friday with a mill of the existing asphalt and gravel stabilization over the weekend with paving to occur the following week. Please observe all flagmen and drive safe for the worker’s behalf.

As mentioned above, funds have been budgeted over the next 6 fiscal years to account for the work needed on these streets. Two factors that will play greatly into our ability to complete the work ahead of schedule will be the winter maintenance expenses and the revenue received from the state for road funding. These funds are distributed to local road agencies via Public Act 51 of 1951. A portion of the tax on each gallon of fuel sold in the state goes back to local units to use on their road projects.

Presently we are projecting a 10% reduction in this revenue stream. With the ridiculous price of gas these days, people across the state are driving less, buying more fuel efficient vehicles, and ultimately consuming less gasoline. With less consumption comes lower tax collection, and ultimately funding issues for local units of government. Coupled with the increase in fuel and materials needed to operate it is a no-win situation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Updating a Few Items

Updating the posts from last week…

Last Thursday morning myself and several interested residents discussed the Duquesa Road situation with the Isabella County Road Commission. While no major progress was made (sorry folks the County didn’t agree to take the problem onto themselves), there was very good discussion and direction established. In summary, the Road Commission has asked us to work with Sherman Township in applying for 2% funding to resolve the issue. One of the main issues that the Road Commission stated whether or not they would ultimately accept the road into their network is if it is paved or not. Per their standards, it must be paved. This presents an issue for the Village. Mainly paving that as a straight shot road would create nothing short of a drag strip into the Village. As such, any design of the road would need to include traffic calming measures to ensure traffic moved at the posted speed. There are other issued to be worked on with this matter, mainly proper compensation for the owner as it is private property. At the very least we have some good direction established to build on this spring and summer.

Last Friday the Village did contact the Supervisor for Sherman Township about the situation. He agreed to present to matter to the Township Board at their next meeting and go from there.

…The new gate on the dam. The LIPOA did receive an anonymous letter regarding the new gate after the Village received the note on the door and published the story here on the blog. Sadly the letter was not signed. It is unfortunate that the author has chosen to remain unknown. Not because anyone in the Village or the LIPOA would seek vengeance or try to punish this person for their opinions. Rather, when correspondence comes to either body that is anonymous it prevents us from seriously addressing the concern and having any type of responsible dialogue. As matter of practice, the Village of Lake Isabella does not respond to anonymous letters, or calls to Sound Off. If you have a concern of question, please do not hesitate to call or write either office. Both the Village and LIPOA take the concerns, comments, suggestions, and questions of our residents very seriously, and we both strive to find solutions to the problems that face the residents of the community.

Last night the Planning Commission held its regularly monthly meeting (minutes of which are posted on our website). In a nut-shell, they scheduled 2 public hearings for their June meeting regarding the comprehensive update to the zoning code after several months of review and discussion. Next week the Village Council meets. While the agenda and meeting materials are still being prepared, the items of note for next Tuesday are as follows:

2008-09 Budget, Property Tax Levy, and Capital Improvement Plan
2008 Fireworks Permit & Contract
Unbuildable Lots Update
Streetlight Master Plan

Don’t forget that this Saturday is the annual LIPOA garage sale weekend. For more information please call their office.

Finally, at last month’s Council meeting, several residents voiced concerns regarding residential rental property inspections and licensing. The Council has asked that this matter be brought up again after additional work has been done to address the concerns when it was last considered in 2005. Look for this to be on the Council’s agenda at the June meeting.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Duquesa "Road"

For those of you living in the northwestern sections of the Village, you likely are very familiar with the orphan child of roads in Isabella County. For lack of a better term we will simply refer to it as a road, even though it is privately owned. The picture shows this ½ mile road segment in red. This road has long been a concern for the Village of Lake Isabella as it serves as the second point of access to this area of the Village. The only other means to access this part of the Village is down Queens Way.

This past July when the Village was hit by a severe thunderstorm, Queens Way was 100% obstructed for nearly 2 hours as crews and residents worked to clear numerous trees down over the roadway.

Earlier this year, the Village adopted a resolution (2008-07) calling on the Isabella County Road Commission to accept the road into its network via “Highway By User.” Highway by User is a clause in Michigan law (MCL 221.20) that allows local units of government to declare an otherwise private roadway a public roadway under certain circumstances. Those four conditions; a defined line for the road, worked on by public authorities, use for 10 consecutive years, and notorious public use have all been met in the opinion of the Village.

The Village of Lake Isabella is prevented from declaring the Highway by User as this portion of Duquesa Road is outside of our incorporated boundary.

This Thursday at 8:30 AM, the Isabella County Road Commission will be considering our request per the resolution we adopted earlier this year. If you are an interested party to this issue, I invite you to attend and make your views known. The meeting is being held at the Road Commission offices on Remus Road in Mount Pleasant.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday Morning

This morning the staff was greeted with a nice love note tied to the front door of the Village Hall. Monday mornings can be rather interesting in terms of the messages we receive at the office. The messages found on voicemail or in our e-mail box from the weekend typically are the more interesting ones we get. Previous favorites include a resident upset at his neighbor's barking dog, who left a message on voicemail of the dog barking at night, numerous calls regarding weekend conduct in the parks, or a recent request to "get somebody out of jail." This however was the first time that we have been graced by a correspondence inside a plastic Meijer bag tied to our door (see picture).

Right away I knew it was going to be something interesting, and more than likely the result of frustration on the part of a resident. Inside the bag was a one page note, which simply said “Gate on Dam Sucks!!” (see second picture). At first we thought it might be in reference to the gate we have at the end of Baseline Road restricting access into our lagoon property, but that wasn't the case.

Not to disappoint anyone (yes the note was anonymous), but the Village of Lake Isabella does not to any degree administer or involve itself in the maintenance of the dam. That falls to the privy of the Lake Isabella Property Owners Association. We contacted the LIPOA, to inquire if there was a new gate to the dam area. Sure enough there is. While the Village in no manner wishes to speak on behalf of the LIPOA, I can personally say that the bridge over the dam and spillway is an area that restricting the access to is long overdue in my opinion. The location has been posted with no less than 5 “No Trespassing” signs on each side of the spillway for several years, but until very recently the bridge over the spillway was not physically gated to prevent unauthorized access.

The dam complex is an area that is inviting to play in for people of all ages. When the water is high the current above and below the dam are extremely dangerous, and is not to be toyed with. The bridge itself was never intended to be a public thoroughfare, and the 20+ foot drop off from it onto solid concrete would do some lasting damage to a person of any age.

The note does bring up a very good discussion point regarding community recreation. Specifically that is the need for biking and pedestrian paths in the community. The Village has been aware of this need for at least four of years and has been attempting to secure a funding mechanism to fund this project without success. Our Village Charter limits our property tax collection to 1 Mill, as such the Village is prevented from addressing and funding needed projects like that and public safety requests. Village-wide we collect a total of $55,000 annually in property taxes. The estimate for a 2 mile path along Queens Way and El Camino Grande is over $200,000. We have applied again this year for 2% money from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and hope that the Tribal Council members will see the merit in our request and fund the beginning stages of this project which not only would increase the recreation in the community, but also address a glaring public safety need in separating pedestrians from vehicular traffic.

- Tim

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dog Catching Season

Just a quick FYI. On the Village's website we post photos of animals we catch and take to the Isabella County Animal Shelter. By doing this we hope reunite pet owners with their animals. If the animal has a tag we always attempt to call the owner before calling the pound. Please, keep your animals in your own yard, and have them tagged!

You can visit our page by clicking here: http://www.lakeisabellami.org/CodeEnforcement.htm

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Survey Says!

A couple of weeks ago the Village mailed out a brief survey to all applicants who applied for a zoning permit in 2006 and 2007. The purpose of the survey is two-fold. First, is to assess our performance as a staff in meeting the needs of our residents in a timely and professional manner. The other purpose is to solicit feed-back for ways in which we can improve the zoning permit process. So far, we have received about 20 of the 80 survey’s we mailed out. By and large the responses have been very positive with several well-thought-out comments.

Foremost among those comments is the need to better clarify the different permits needed to build (soil erosion, well & septic, LIPOA, and county building). Along with that comment is the need to better describe the different roles and duties of not only the Village and the LIPOA, but the Village and the two townships.

This item was discussed at a recent Liaison Committee meeting between the Village and the LIPOA. Work has already begun in creating this document which both organizations will not only make available in their respective offices, but also on their websites as well.

As to the survey, if you received one please return to the office, we really do welcome your feedback.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Red Flag Day

The “red flag” has several meanings. If you happen to be an auto racing fan it signals a temporary stop to the race. If you frequent the beach, you know that a “red flag day” is one where waves and water current conditions close the beach for swimming.

In terms of fire warnings, it is a term used by fire-weather forecasters to call attention to weather conditions of particular importance that may result in extreme burning conditions. The criteria for red flag events requires the combination of high to extreme fire danger and a critical fire weather pattern such as: low relative humidity, very dry and unstable air, and very strong/ shifting winds. These are the conditions that our region currently faces.

This past week the village has seen two fires in the village and one adjacent to the village. One these fires resulted in the tragic loss of a home on Bundy Drive. With that in mind the Village would like to remind residents that it is a violation of the Village ordinance code to burn trash, leaves, brush, or construction material. Our code enforcement department yesterday was busy contacting residents with burn barrels and reminding them of this ordinance which was adopted in August of 2007.

Remember, only you can stop fires!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

PASER Ratings; What, Why, When, and How

What the heck is a “PASER” rating you might be asking? PASER stands for Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating. It is a system that was developed at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and it uses visual observation of the physical condition of the pavement surface to assign a numerical rating. This numerical value, from 1 to 10, not only defines the physical condition of the pavement, but also relates to recommended maintenance.

Michigan has taken the system created in Wisconsin, and totally transformed how it is used. What started as a simple way to help townships, cities, and villages in Wisconsin rate their roads, is being used by Michigan as the foundation for statewide pavement asset management. Presently all local units of government in Michigan that manage roads (cities, villages, and county road commissions), are required to submit an annual report detailing the funds invested in the transportation network within their jurisdiction. So far the requirement to PASER rate streets has only been applied to the county road commissions for all roads that can receive Federal funds, but within 2 years cities and villages will be required to have some type of asset management program in place as required by Public Act 499 of 2002.

So how does this all work? Well it is pretty simple. First it is a matter of observation. (We are looking for volunteers who are interested in helping with this project to PASER rate all 27+ miles of streets within the Village of Lake Isabella.) Once the observation has been made, and a number assigned to a street segment, the data will be logged by the Village and then used to plan long term maintenance and capital improvements to the streets in the Village. We are also thinking of creating a page to our website with maps that show the PASER rating of all Village streets, explain in detail what our long range plans are for pavement management. Please give us your feedback; let us know if you are interested in PASER rating with our staff, or if you would like to see a page dedicated to this or the streets in general on our website.

OK, now for the how it works part. Well, as mentioned above, street segments are given a value of 1 for major stress, and 10 for new construction. With 13 miles of new pavement less than one year old, we feel the time is right to put this system in place. Below are two photos taken from streets near the Village Hall. Based on what you see, you can assign a value. That value then tells you what type of work is needed for that segment of pavement. Lets take a look at these two locations.

For the specific criteria used, the City of Novi has a very good “cheat sheet” which can be found on their website at: http://cityofnovi.org/Services/Engineering/PASER/PASERRatingSystem.asp

Location 1: Clubhouse Drive, in front of the Village Hall

This section of street was given an inch and a half overlay of hot mix asphalt (HMA) in 2006. The street at that time was showing significant distress with both transverse and longitudinal cracking. So far, the only thing that has developed with the overlay are transverse cracks, which are highlighted in red on the picture. Based on all the observed conditions, what rating would you give this section of street? Well, right from the start we can toss out 10, 9, and 8. Prior to the overlay in 2006, the rating of this street segment would have been about a 4. Which is the threshold for what is considered structural distress, meaning that any rating 5 and above only requires maintenance, not structural replacement. Based on the criteria from Novi's website, what do you think? By the way, Novi's cheat-sheet is an adaptation of the official field user cheat-sheet that everyone now uses.

With all that in mind the appropriate rating for this street segment would be either a 6 or a 7, based on the conditions beyond this snapshot area.

Location 2: Birdie Lane, just east of Tee Drive

To be perfectly frank, Birdie Lane has seen better days. At our Village Council meeting this Tuesday the Council approved a bid begin replacing three sections of the street that have become significantly distressed. In the mean time, let’s take a look at what are known as “alligator cracks.” The area boxed in red is shows these cracks. In addition to the alligator cracks, there are also transverse cracks shown in blue, and longitudinal cracks shown in green. Based the interconnection of the transverse and longitudinal cracks, they form what are known as “block cracks.”

So, based on these conditions, what rating should Birdie Lane get? For this section the appropriate rating would be either a 2 or 3, both of which indicate poor conditions.

Now it is important to close on a few rules of PASER rating. First, ratings cannot be done in the rain, snow, or with wet pavement. The moisture often times will hide cracks or make them appear larger. Second, PASER ratings are done only on the travel lane of the street. While shoulders are very important to the street, they do not affect a rating. When rating a street segment with one lane that is in good condition, and one that is not, the rule is to always take the worse number and not average them together. Finally, the rating relates to the physical condition of the pavement, not the quality of the ride. So what do you think? If you care to join us in this project, please feel free to e-mail or call!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Village Manager's Report

As part of our monthly Village Council meeting I prepare a written report. In the past I would e-mail this to residents who requested it. With the blog now in use, my opinion is that this is a good medium to share the information.




TSI Committee/Street Lights
The TSI Committee reviewed the first draft of the street lighting policy at its last meeting. They have held off on action until May as we are still waiting for information from Tri-County regarding converting our current sodium streetlights to LED streetlights. Not only would LED lights be more energy efficient, they also would further reduce light pollution by producing a softer light in a more focused area.

Form Based Zoning
The Planning Commission received a report and PowerPoint presentation regarding form based zoning. I would like to give this same presentation to the Village Council at an upcoming meeting.

Zoning Survey
The Village is sending out a survey to all permit applicants from the 2006 and 2007 calendar years. We look to take the information and gauge our performance and see if there is anything we can improve on in delivering the zoning process to our residents. This includes if they used the website, and how we can improve the content related to zoning online.

Code Enforcement/Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance
As is the case every spring after the snow finally melts away, we have been very busy with enforcement matters. We are focusing right now on blight and trash matters, and have issued several tickets to properties in violation.

We also have had group of residents request again that the Village adopt and enforce a residential rental property inspection code. This was considered by the Village Council in 2005. After discussion, the Council voted to not adopt he enacting ordinance per the advice our legal counsel and based on ability to administer such a program in our former location. We do have the facilities now to implement a rental inspection program, which we simply did not have at out 1096 Queens Way location. If the Council wishes to consider the draft again, I recommend some changes to it. Among those would be that if a location had over 6 separate correction notices in any 12 month period, the rental license could be revoked for 1 year.

MML Public Policy Forum & PASER Training
On April 16th I will be in West Branch for the entire day to receive training and certification to PASER rate our streets. PASER ratings are a numerical scale from 0 to 10 that gives a value to a street section based on its physical condition, with a 10 being the best condition. We be looking for volunteers to help in this process over the summer. With over 27 miles of streets in the Village it will be a big project!

On April 17th I will be in Lansing all day at a public policy forum hosted by the Michigan Municipal League. This is the second of the 4 forums that the League is hosting. The first one was last month in Detroit and focused on new urbanism and zoning practice. This forum will feature presentations from Peter Kageyama of Creative Cities Productions in Tampa Bay, FL and Sean Safford of the University of Chicago school of Business.

The forums were developed after the League received a grant to bring in top speakers and leaders from around the globe to give insights to a selected group of local government leaders from around the state.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

“Yes, Virginia,” there is another Lake Isabella…

Yesterday morning we received the following e-mail in our inbox:

To whom it may concern:

We will be opening a part time cardiovascular practice in Lake Isabella and would like to know what permits and paper work are required. The office will be opened 2 days a month for approximately 4 hours each day

After some initial excitement about another business locating inside the Village, especially one that would be so well received and used by the community, subsided a few red flags came up. For example, the area code on the e-mail signature was “661,” and according to their web-site all of their locations are in the Bakersfield, CA region.

After calling the business contact, and a few laughs on both ends of the phone, it was confirmed that yes indeed they were expanding to Lake Isabella, CA.

So what is Lake Isabella, CA? According to Wikipeda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Isabella), Lake Isabella is a man-made earthen resevior in Kern County, California that consists of a main and auxiliary dam. It was formed in 1953 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Kern River at the junction of its two forks at Whiskey Flat. At 11,000 acres (45 km²), it is one of the largest reservoirs in California. The area is in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada range and the lake itself is located in low mountains at an elevation of approximately 2,500 feet (760 m) where summer temperatures reach over 100 degrees (°F) but low enough to avoid winter snows on the surrounding ridges. Lake Isabella is located about 40 miles (65 km) northeast of Bakersfield, and is the main water supply for that city. Lake Isabella can be reached by car from Bakersfield via state Highway 178 and from Delano via Highway 155.

The lake is a dividing point. Upper Kern River flows into Lake Isabella, Lower Kern River flows out of the lake and toward Bakersfield. The nearby towns of Lake Isabella and Kernville receive economic benefit from tourism created by the Lake Isabella Recreation Area and the whitewater rafting attraction of the Upper and Lower Kern River. Much of the wilderness surrounding the lake is part of the Sequoia National Forest. The population in and around the unincorporated community of Lake Isabella, CA was just over 3,000 as of the 2000 census.

Below are a couple of picutures of the "other" Lake Isabella.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Governor says "Save the Dream"

Yesterday Governor Granholm signed into law legislation to assist Michigan residents who are facing foreclosure of their home. The legislation creates a new program that is simply being called “Save the Dream.” This program creates two new refinancing options to protect home ownership.

The Save the Dream products and programs are operated and funded entirely by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The program is focused on two means of support.

The first is option allows homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) the ability to refinance into a 30-year, lower-interest, fixed-rate conventional loan. The new loans are backed by MSHDA.

The other option is “The Rescue Refinance Program” that will assist individuals who have a delinquency on their mortgage and who are at risk of losing their home. Homeowners who qualify for the program will have a chance to get into a more affordable 30-year, fixed rate, conventional loan.

Both initiatives are targeted at existing homeowners, not first-time buyers. To qualify for one of the new loan programs, homeowners must meet the same income and sales price limits that other MSHDA loan products require. Specifically, household income must be under $108,000, and the purchase price of the home cannot exceed $224,500. The initiatives will be funded by taxable bonds, and homeowners will be responsible for the full value of their refinanced mortgages. The original mortgage does not have to be a MSHDA loan; however, the homeowner must meet MSHDA requirements for the refinance product. This qualifying information is available from approved lenders and directly from MSHDA.

For more details on the Save the Dream refinance programs and other services, a visit to www.michigan.gov/mshda will take seekers to MSHDA’s home page and the Save the Dream icon where up-to-date information about the loans, services, and MSHDA-approved lenders and certified counselors is available. There is also a consumer hotline that helps callers find a counselor locally. That toll-free number is 1-866-946-7432.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fiscal Health... According to the State

This weekend the Village received a nice surprise in the mail from the Michigan Department of Treasury. Typically when the office receives anything unexpected that says “State of Michigan” on the return address, it is opened quickly as this was. Trust me; it isn’t because we are so eager to see what good news is being shared. Upon opening these surprise correspondences, we usually get to find out what changes (often reductions) to a beneficial program or funding source for local government has been implemented by our elected and appointed leaders in Lansing.

For a change the news was good! The envelope contained a report from the Treasury which scored the fiscal health of the Village. The report stems from a study commissioned by the Department several years ago which identified nine areas of measurement to gauge a community’s fiscal health. These nine areas comprise core budget numbers and assessment information such as population, taxable value, general fund revenue, general fund expenses, and long term debt. These indicators are then scored based on previous year numbers to generate an overall number. According to the memo which accompanied the report from the Department of Treasury, “Aggregate scoring is based upon zero to one point for each indicator. A low aggregate score reflects fiscal neutrality, while a higher aggregate score reflects significant fiscal stress.”

So, according to Lansing, the best score to have on this report is a zero. It is also worth noting that the best we can shoot for is “fiscal neutrality,” not fiscal health. Recent years have seen massive reductions in critical funding to local government, and an increasing burden on local units of government to find new revenue sources to off-set the imbalance created by the State of Michigan. In fiscal climate of recent years, fiscal neutrality for many communities has been very hard to achieve.

The methodology of the report is fairly straight forward. Of the nine areas that are scored, the only area that is inaccurate for the Village is the population estimate of 1,125. We feel it is inaccurate as our 2000 census number was 1,243. Since that time the Village has approved permits for the construction of over 200 new homes. For us to lose population while increasing the housing stock from 700 to 900 homes is simply not realistic.

The State of Michigan is not alone in their poor estimate of the Village’s population. The United States Census Bureau’s last estimate had our population under 1,100. The census number of a community is much more than just a source of pride, or a benchmark for fiscal health. It is a foundational number in many funding programs that directly impact the quality of services we can deliver. It is highly weighted in both revenue sharing and Act 51 funding formulas. Thankfully for us they have to use official census numbers and not estimates in these formulas.

Back to the report from the Department of Treasury, you might be wondering how Lake Isabella did. Well, we scored a zero (remember according to State, zero is good… I mean fiscally neutral). In viewing the website created by the Department of Treasury on this program, the only other units of government for Isabella County that have been posted are the 2005 score for Isabella County and the 2006 score for the City of Mount Pleasant. Both of these units scored a 1 on the report. Below is a link to view a PDF copy of the report along with the link to the Department of Treasury website detailing this program.