Today, 34th Circuit Court Judge Robert W. Bennett of Roscommon County amended the lake level order for Houghton Lake, establishing special assessment district boundaries around the lake.
The special assessment district contains properties around and near Houghton Lake that benefit from the lake level including privately owned parcels of land, subdivisions and state-owned land.
“We’re happy with the outcome of the hearing,” said Jodi Valentino, county controller for Roscommon County and delegated authority for the special assessment district. “Defining the boundaries of the special assessment district was important because it gives the county a legal perimeter of which parcels benefit from the lake.”
The Roscommon County Circuit Court last entered a lake level order in 1982. Since then, the lake level and dam have been maintained and operated under Part 307, Inland Lake Levels, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 Pa 451. This legal framework means the Roscommon County Board of Commissioners has the authority to pass a resolution stating that the cost to maintain a lake level structure can be defrayed by a special assessment against property owners who benefit from the body of water.
Judge Bennett heard testimony from the lead engineer on the project and from many property owners within the proposed special assessment district before ruling. Property owners were notified about the hearing in advance and were able to ask questions and talk to members of the project team before the district was established.
This ruling only determined the properties that are in the district. Determinations as to how much any assessments will be or apportionments for assessments will be determined at a future public hearing and ultimately must also be approved by the county board of commissioners.