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Revised Order Establishing Lake Level SAD and Confirming SAD Boundaries for St. Helen

Updated: Feb 9

On Friday, December 15th, 34th Circuit Court Judge Robert W. Bennett of Roscommon County established a lake level special assessment district for Lake St. Helen. The special assessment district contains properties around and near Lake St. Helen that benefit from the lake level. This includes private parcels of land, subdivisions and state-owned land.

 

“Historically, Roscommon County has paid for the operations, maintenance and improvement efforts for the lake level control structure out of the county’s general fund,” explained Jodi Valentino, Roscommon County Controller and, at the time of the court hearing, delegated authority for the lake level. “That way of operating is no longer feasible. Establishing a special assessment district was the first step in securing long-term funding for the maintenance of the legal lake level. This way, properties that benefit from the lake contribute to its sustainability.”

 

The lake level control structure located on the South Branch of the Au Sable River was constructed in the 1930s. It helps Lake St. Helen maintain its legal summer level of 1,155.25 feet above sea level. Part 307, Inland Lake Levels, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act grants authority for the Roscommon County Board of Commissioners to pass a resolution stating that the cost to maintain the legal level of a lake can be defrayed by a special assessment against properties that benefit from the body of water. 

 

During the hearing the project’s lead engineer gave testimony and answered questions and concerns from the public before the ruling. The ruling only determined the properties that are in the special assessment district. This ruling did not determine how much assessments will be or the apportionments. A future public hearing is required to set assessment and apportionment amounts, which must be approved by the County Board of Commissioners.

 

In December of 2022 a special assessment district was established for Houghton Lake and in September of 2023 a district was established for Higgins Lake. Following the December 15 hearing, the County Board of Commissioners appointed Schepke Consulting, LLC to serve as the delegated authority for Lake St. Helen.

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