MINUTES OF BOARD MEETING
TRUSTEES OF BARTON HILLS VILLAGE
January 14, 2008
The regular meeting of the Board of Trustees was called to order by President Laporte at 6:01 PM at the Village Hall.
ROLL CALL Present: Trustees Al-Awar, Boddie, Bogat, Butterwick, Langford, Laporte, Lindstrom and Wilkes. Absent: Trustee MacKrell.
Others attending: Atty. Reading, ZPA Perry, Asst. Treasurer Redies, Supt. Esch, BHMC President Bultman and BHMC Director Edward Surovell.
PUBLIC COMMENT None.
MINUTES Motion Mrs. Langford moved that the minutes of the December 10, 2007Trustees meeting be approved as printed. Mr. Al-Awar seconded; the motion carried.
FINANCE Mrs. Redies distributed the Cash Balances Comparison Report and the December 31, 2007Financial Statement. Questions regarding the annual audit and payment to Ann Arbor Muffler were clarified. Motion Mr. Boddie moved that the 3rd Quarter Cash Disbursements be approved as printed (see Aux. Book XIX D). Mr. Lindstrom seconded; the motion carried.
ZONING AND PLANNING ADMINISTRATOR No report.
Finance Mr. Boddie deferred to BHMC Director Edward Surovell who addressed the financial situation of the corporation. Mr. Surovell distributed a written report, explaining that BHMC has $2,800 in its accounts and bills amounting to $4,400 due in March 2008. More money than expected was spent over the last year for legal fees related to the land transfer for the VAC project. BHMC is frugal with its funds, but has seen a significant decrease in the amount received from the Barton Boat Club lease (funds applied to weed control) along with the increased expense of liability insurance (about $2,000/yr) over the past few years that has not been offset by additional operating funds. BHMC is asking the Trustees for two things: 1) allocation of revenue to meet the obligations remaining in this fiscal year, and 2) review of the situation so BHMC has the necessary funds to conduct business in the future. Mr. Surovell emphasized that the dual structure of BHV/BHMC is designed to best serve the community, i.e., the tax system and protection of private roads. BHMC entered into their financial obligations in good faith for the mutual goal of the success of the VAC project. They have limited options for increasing revenue and request the assistance of BHV to fulfill their responsibilities. Questions from the Trustees/response from Mr. Surovell included:
--This request seems like a sudden surprise, suggesting a lack of planning for the year. R: It did come up quickly. BHMC received billings from their legal counsel covering long periods of time. The expense for the land transfer work was anticipated, but once the process was going it was difficult to estimate how much the expense would be. We were caught by surprise as well.
--What will change in the process so this doesn’t happen again? R: BHMC has tried to arrange for more frequent billings, although when seeking legal counsel you tend to do what needs to be done. This was a highly unusual circumstance that we hope will not be repeated.
--Doesn’t BHMC have a budget? A little over budget is understandable, but this is a lot over budget. R: The budget does provide for legal expenses but the VAC Project required a lot more work for both BHV and BHMC. We don’t anticipate this kind of situation in the future; if we have something that isn’t covered by insurance we will be aware of it in time to make plans.
--What happens if there is a challenge to the Deed Restrictions? R: The conflict should become apparent in the Planning Commission and can be anticipated to some extent. We also have insurance. But this wasn’t an issue of risk, it was a community issue that involved all of us in order to be completed.
--This situation isn’t resolved yet. We’re trying to work towards the same goal but we have two attorneys fighting over it and we’re all paying for it. There’s something wrong with the process. R: The Village Hall discussion has been going on for a long time and we’ve all had to work hard to get through the dual system that required the support of a majority of our 140 households. There have been genuine differences of opinion on every level.
--Even now we don’t have a signed agreement. R (Ms. Laporte): We entered into a sales agreement last spring that required research and has resulted in two deeds. Atty. Lloyd handled much of that work on behalf of both BHMC and BHV at our request. In discussing the current status with Mr. Lloyd, it appears that completing the sales agreement isn’t necessary since the deeds have been drafted. BHV has signed their deed. (Mr. Bultman: BHMC has signed theirs as well.) The deeds have been reviewed by Atty. Reading and are ready to be recorded which will complete the transaction.
--If that is the case, the debt is owed for the community and it should be paid.
--We should disburse some funds to BHMC and work for better understanding in the future.
Mr. Bultman expressed concern about having enough funds to avoid penalties on the accounts. He suggested reconsideration of the application of funds for the 2005-2006 lease year, but Mr. Boddie was reluctant to go back and reinterpret the agreement, preferring to view the current situation as an unforeseen event that requires a specific solution. Mr. Boddie suggested that further consideration of the lease be a separate discussion. Motion Mr. Boddie moved that $1,600 be authorized as a one-time payment to Barton Hills Maintenance Corporation for legal expenses; further that an additional $3,400 be advanced on the coming year’s lease agreement between Barton Hills Village and Barton Hills Maintenance Corporation to cover potential future expenses. Mr. Wilkes seconded; the motion carried.
Maintenance Area/Buildings Ms. Laporte noted that the red trailer by the pool area will be removed as soon as weather permits.
Ordinance Revision No report.
Village Administration Center Mr. Lindstrom reported that the VAC Committee will meet on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 to review the specifications for the project. He requested a special meeting of the BHV Trustees to discuss this next phase, feeling that the issue was too large to adequately review at a regular meeting and that the Trustees owed it to their constituents to spend the time. The committee hopes to make a presentation to BHMC at their February 6, 2008 meeting and be able to enter the bid process as early as possible for the coming construction season. Motion Mr. Lindstrom moved that a Special Meeting of the Barton Hills Village Board of Trustees be held on Monday, January 28, 2008 at 6:00 PM at the Village Hall for the sole purpose of discussing matters pertaining to the Village Administration Center project. Mr. Al-Awar seconded; the motion carried.
BHMC Liaison No report.
Environmental No report.
Long RangePlanning No report.
Personnel No report.
Recreation No report.
Roads/Vehicles No report.
Security No report.
Water No report.
Zoning/ZO Revision No report.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS Planning Commission Ms. Laporte introduced the proposed ordinance establishing the Barton Hills Village Planning Commission, referring to Atty. Reading’s memo. It was noted that the information distributed by Mr. Reading at the December meeting should be disregarded in favor of the current documents. The ordinance reflects the requirements of The City and Village Planning Act (Public Act 285 of 1931 as amended). While the commission will function as a separate body with its own officers and budget, it will be funded through BHV municipal accounts. Questions from the Trustees/response from Ms. Laporte/Mr. Reading/Mr. Perry included:
--If the ex-officio member from the Trustees is limited to the length of his/her term, how does that fit with Section 4G? R: The Act intends that each member have a three-year term, with the staggered terms only to start. The beginning terms may be assigned as the President/Trustees see fit. If the ex-officio member’s Trustee term expires before the completion of his/her Planning Commission term, a vacancy on the commission will result (to be filled as specified in Section 5).
--Does Section 7 imply that the Chairperson of the Planning Commission cannot be the ex-officio (non-appointed) member? R: Yes, this is a requirement of the Act.
--What are the offices referred to in Section 7? R: The commission may elect a secretary, treasurer and whatever officers they choose. This is a more formal group than committees that serve under the Board of Trustees. The commission will have a separate budget, keep its own minutes, etc.
--Do they need a separate space? Where will their records be kept? R: This is probably best determined by the rules of procedure mentioned in Section 8B.
--Section 8A requires a monthly meeting—even if there are no agenda items? R: Yes, this is also a requirement of the Act.
--Could such a meeting be by teleconference? R: No.
Ms. Laporte added that Mr. Perry has more information about the process, including a checklist for the Planning Commission to consult as they make organizational plans. It is very likely they will choose to employ a professional planner.
Motion Mr. Al-Awar moved that the ordinance to establish the Barton Hills Village Planning Commission be approved. Mr. Boddie seconded. Mr. Lindstrom moved to amend the motion to include a sentence in Section 4 indicating that members of the commission must be Barton Hills Village residents. Mr. Al-Awar seconded; the motion to amend carried. The motion as amended carried.
Planning Commission Appointments President Laporte presented the following list of appointments for membership in the BHV Planning Commission:
John MacKrell (computer consultant) 2 year term
Ruthann Nichols (neurobiologist) 2 year term
John McCabe (physician) 3 year term
Laura Weingartner (attorney) 3 year term
Ms. Laporte added that all appointees are willing to serve and she could recommend them with confidence. Motion Mr. Boddie moved that the slate of appointments for the Barton Hills Village Planning Commission be approved as presented. Mr. Butterwick seconded; the motion carried. Motion Mrs. Langford moved that Trustee Will Boddie be appointed to serve on the Barton Hills Village Planning Commission for a one-year term as the ex-officio member. Mr. Al-Awar seconded. There were no further nominations and the motion carried. Appreciation was expressed to Ms. Laporte for her efforts on this matter.
Land Transfer As indicated earlier, the deeds have been signed for the land transfer. Atty. Reading will see that the deeds are recorded. Appreciation was expressed to BHMC for the great amount of effort invested in this matter. It was not a simple undertaking and much good work was required to bring it to completion.
Project Review Process Motion Mr. Boddie moved that the Project Review Process, tabled at the December 10, 2007 meeting, be postponed indefinitely. Mr. Al-Awar seconded; the motion carried.
NEW BUSINESS Power Outages Discussion focused on the number of times power has been out in BHV, particularly the last occurrence on December 23, 2007. The entire village lost power around 7:30 AM that day. Power was restored to about half the village around noon; the remaining half (Barton North Drive, Country Club Road, Forest Road, Colliston Road and Oakdale Road) experienced low and fluctuating power until about 6:00 PM on December 25, 2007. Ms. Laporte, Mr. Esch and various Trustees received many calls from residents complaining about this situation. In addition, it was noted that the pumps for the municipal water system were also out of power, requiring continual monitoring by the BHV staff to maintain the system. Frustration was expressed at the lack of means to communicate known information (where trees were lying on wires) to DTE Energy and the low priority given to repair of the community by DTE. Mr. Wilkes referred to the letter he and Mr. Becher sent and the subsequent reply from DTE indicating plans for improvement of the power system. It was suggested that more letters need to be sent both to DTE and to the Public Service Commission that regulates the utility. Given the number of power outages BHV has experienced in the past two years (eleven according to maintenance staff records) and the time involved before power is restored, it could be argued that DTE is not fulfilling its obligation to provide reliable power to the community. BHV cannot provide power on its own and there are no other feasible power providers servicing the village. Several actions were recommended:
--Ms. Laporte should write letters on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the residents of Barton Hills Village to both DTE Energy and the Public Service Commission.
--Copies of the letters, along with the Wilkes/Becher letter should be sent with a Barton Bulletin. Residents should be urged to write letters of their own in similar fashion.
--Letters should be sent to state legislators concerning the issue.
--Effort should be made to obtain from DTE a means of personal contact for use when information needs to be relayed to the utility from BHV staff.
--It was noted that the franchise with DTE Energy has expired. Consideration of these issues should be included in negotiation of the new franchise.
--Letters should not be too prescriptive in what action to take, but should be emphatic that the chronology indicates reliable service is not being provided and remedy is required.
Mr. Esch noted similar problems with AT&T regarding the phone lines that connect the controls of the water pumps and water tower. Repairs are more frequently needed and it seems the system is patched rather than upgraded or replaced. Mr. Wilkes will look into this question to see if BHV technology is in need of improvement as well.
Mr. Al-Awar moved that the meeting be adjourned at 7:46 PM. Mr. Boddie seconded; the motion carried.
Janice K. Esch, Deputy Clerk