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Resolution may be at hand for Lake Emma

October 7, 2012
Jordan Travis - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ROGERS CITY - Presque Isle County commissioners will vote on a resolution that could resolve an issue for property owners around Lake Emma who pay a special assessment, according to the commissioner board chairman.

Land owners around the lake, which is one of a chain connected by the Ocqueoc River, currently pay a special assessment to repair a dam on the river, board of commissioners Chairman Carl Altman said. The dam is needed to maintain a court-ordered lake level dating back to the 1940s when a conservation club built the existing structure.

On Wednesday, county commissioners will vote on a resolution stating the 20-year special assessment will stay at its current rate for five years, enough to pay for temporary repairs made to the dam about a year ago, Altman said. At the end of five years, the Lake Emma Advisory Committee would review the situation and see if more money is necessary. If not, the rate would be lowered and any money raised would go into an escrow account for future repairs.

Commissioners will meet in Rogers City at the courthouse at 7 p.m.

"We had public hearings with property owners, we discussed the assessment roll, who's on the assessment, who's in the assessment district, and each party's monetary responsibility, if you will," Altman said. "Now the Lake Emma committee has to meet - I think we're going to meet Monday evening - and basically just say that it's OK now to take (the resolution) to the county board."

The resolution has been in the works since July, when Altman told commissioners a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality engineer agreed the repairs made to the dam should suffice for now. The repairs were made by Cordes Excavating in fall 2011 to ensure the dam is stable enough to maintain Lake Emma's water level.

"We want to get it done here so we can get it on the tax roll for winter (property) taxes," he said.

Originally, the county was looking to pay $260,000 for more comprehensive repairs to the dam, a cost the property owners would've paid through the special assessment, Altman said. The county then had difficulty obtaining an easement to the dam over property owned by the Wilhelm family. This dispute ended amicably when Joseph Wilhelm, son of the owner, agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding allowing county officials and DEQ engineers to access the dam as needed.

Dan White, an attorney working with the county on the project, told commissioners in July that the property owner believed a formal easement would negatively affect the value of his 318-acre plot, which surrounds the dam.

A DEQ engineer will inspect the dam again in 2014, and will inform the county whether more work is needed, Altman said. Drain Commissioner Charlie Lyon also will keep watch on the situation.

"Hopefully, we can keep going with (the assessment), and get this thing settled for once, at least for some years here into the future," he said.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.



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