***Press release on Kuis drain***
In 2014, the County Drain Commissioner held a board of determination (BOD) for the Kuis drain. Over 200 people attended the meeting and although many of those attendees opposed, the BOD decided to approve the drain project. The County did take the drain commission to court, not wanting to incur any cost for that drain, and lost. They appealed and lost there as well. Fruitport Township chose not to file suit against the Drain Commission. One resident filed, however dropped the suit before going to court. The minutes to the Board of determination meeting, as well as the engineering findings, are on the County Drain Commission website. Fruitport and its attorney attended a public meeting with the DEQ & Drain Commission concerning the drain. The DEQ did not find a need to alter the drain project.
The township’s attorney gave his opinion that we would need to spend a great deal of Public funds to hire an engineering firm to re-evaluate the drain and bring a different conclusion to an appeal court regarding the condition of the drain and the boundary. This would need to be compelling enough to have the court of appeals agree with a different opinion. He stated this would be very difficult, as well as costly, if we could even find an engineering firm with a different opinion. The Drain Commission has, by law, the authority to establish and assess drain projects. The township has no authority to create or halt a drain project that is deemed necessary and conducive to public health, convenience and welfare.
The township’s current administration has worked with the Drain Commissioner to help with some of the cost of the cleanout contract. The Commission’s engineer has gone line by line and has reduced some of the bid amount. MDOT is contributing over $200,000 for the work being done next to the highway, the township water department is paying for some of the work that is being done with regards to their water main, and the board removed a culvert replacement from the bid that Muskegon County Road Commission determined to have 25 years of life left in it. With no way to stop this process, (which could only have been done in 2014 at the Board of Determination and 10 days after with an appeal), the township is concentrating on reducing costs.
At the Fruitport Township Board meeting held on September 11, 2017, the Drain Commissioner was held up at another meeting; due to her arrival time being undetermined the board moved on to the next agenda items. The last item on the agenda was to go into closed session regarding a matter under the open meetings act, unrelated to the Kuis Drain. The Supervisor called the Drain Commissioners cell phone at that time and was unable to contact her. It was decided to move to the next agenda item and go into closed session. It was unfortunate the Drain Commissioner came shortly after that and the board was not there to hear comments from the audience. After the closed session the Drain Commissioner did update the township board and the board expressed its concerns regarding the necessity, scope and cost of the project.