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Sand Lake drain appeal dismissed

Sand Lake drain appeal dismissed

By Judy Reed

It looks like the apportionment of percent of benefits calculated for property owners on the proposed Sand Lake Drain improvement will not change.

A Board of Review, consisting of three members appointed by the Kent County Probate Court, held a day-long ZOOM meeting on the issue on Thursday, November 12, after several property owners filed an appeal. After the hours-long meeting and a drive to the area by the panel to see the properties involved, the members voted to dismiss the appeal and uphold the apportionment of benefits as determined by the Drain Commissioner. The vote was unanimous.

Those that brought the appeal included properties owned by Sand Lake Company, LLC, the Dean and Kristie Wall Trust, Helena Ranch LTD., and Bill D LLC.

“Upon such review and hearing, we found the said apportionment for the Sand Lake Drain in Kent County to be without manifest error or inequality and declared the same to be just and equitable in every respect,” the panel said in a document noting the decision. 

“The appeal, therefore, is DISMISSED, with all costs and expenses therefore charged to the Appellants, to be ascertained and determined by the Kent County Probate Court, as provided by Law.”

According to Kent County Drain Commissioner Ken Yonker the drain was first established in 1900. In 1915, the pipe was upgraded from a 9-inch to a 15-inch. It’s now 105 years old. They did some maintenance on it in 1922. There have been some spot repairs, but the last time the county did anything with it was in 1994.

The drain fell on to the county’s radar last year when two property owners had the Village of Sand Lake petition the county to repair the drain due to sinkholes in their yards. The clay tiles were reportedly collapsing, leading the drain commission to establish a board of review to consider upgrading the drain. It was approved in February, but property owners only recently found out what their part of the fee for the $633,000 project would be. While some property owners will only pay a few hundred dollars over six years, others will pay much more, since the apportionment is based on how much a property benefits from the upgrade. For instance, Dean Wall will be assessed about $135,000 combined on the several pieces of property he owns. He was one of the parties that appealed the Drain Commissioner’s assessment. 

Yonker said that the contractors will proceed with the project as far as they can go before bad weather.

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