Drama Over Drains

By: Beth Shayne Email
By: Beth Shayne Email

The brand new recycling center in Delhi Township is little more than a slab of concrete, and some bins, but ask township manager John Elsinga and he'll tell you getting it built has been anything but simple.

They applied for a Soil Erosion and Sedimentation permit in July '06, but Ingham County drain commissioner Pat Lindemann says the plans did not pass muster--and the township did not meet his engineering requirements time and time again. The process cost Delhi $15,000 and eight months, in the end.

"It's very fair to say we have gotten frustrated," Elsinga says.

The recycling center he calls just one example. The township got enough complaints from developers to consider it an economic development issue.

"It's the development community that really bends our ear on the time and cost with the current process," he says.

When Delhi heard Meridian and Lansing Township had had complaints as well, the three petitioned the state for permission to have staff do the assessments instead.

Lindemann quibbles with the complaint in general, says the average permit takes 15 days in his office.

"What they think they're going to gain, they're going to lose in the end," he says. He believes the townships will find they don't save time and cost money from the general fund.

He also cautions, soil erosion permits exist to protect the river.
"We have a responsibility as a society," he says, "to do the right thing."

The townships' request is still pending with the Department of Environment Quality.

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  • by Mady Jacobs Location: Grand Ledge on Sep 11, 2007 at 11:56 AM
    "the average permit takes 15 days." 15 days from what. If things were really turning around this quick, I don't believe anyone would be compaining. "we have the responsibility as a society to do the right thing." The key words in that sentence are WE and SOCIETY. I don't see anything about the Drain Commission.
  • by Kurt Location: Delta Township on Sep 11, 2007 at 10:42 AM
    The problem with Drain Commissioners is the fact they have no oversite. There is no state or county agency the oversees them. They build their own little kingdoms. The payables on projects out of these kingdoms range in the 100's of millions considering the attorny fees, contractors and engineers involved in DC projects. To give you an idea, the original Carrier Creek in Delta was supposed to cost 22 million. In the end it cost 44 million after all was said and done. This was a tab pick up by the taxpayers of Eaton County by assessment. One business alone was assessed 2 million after they fought and had their assessment reduced. I would definitly say this is harmfull to economic development! The DC is the only person in the state that can levy a tax on the people without a vote from the people. This is an antiquated system and needs to be changed. Also, Lindemann is the head of the Drain Commissioners Lobby and a very entrenched politician.
  • by Abbey Location: East Lansing on Sep 11, 2007 at 10:21 AM
    The only general fund Lindemann is looking out for is his own. If DEQ permits these three township, which anyone in there right mind prayers they will, Lindemann's only concern is for his general fund and the fact that losing the soil erosion permitting will decrease the need for all the unneccessary general fund employees he currently employees. I believe that local goverment should be responsible for what happens within their boundries. After all, as a society, we elect our township officials which, indirectly says we trust them to protect the interests of our communities.
  • by Tom Location: Holt on Sep 11, 2007 at 08:15 AM
    I don't think we have to worry about the soil erosion getting into the river. The drains we have been paying for over and over again have never been cleaned out enough for runoff to reach the river. we sure would like that recycling center so we wouldn't have to have another landfill.
  • by Doug Carr Location: Greater Lansing Home Builders on Sep 11, 2007 at 08:04 AM
    It is not surprising that three Townships in Ingham County are attempting to opt out of the Soil Erosion permitting process through the County. Many of the members of the Greater Lansing Home Builders have been complaining about the difficulties of working with the Drain office for years.
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