The Indian Lake Improvement Association is working diligently to PRESERVE, PROTECT, and IMPROVE the quality of Indian Lake to ensure our residents and visitors can continue enjoying this natural treasure.
Special Assessment District
A special assessment is a charge imposed on real property to pay costs of a special service or improvement. Only properties receiving a special benefit from a project can be specially assessed. The State of Michigan Legislature has established two requirements that must be met: 1) the procedure that Townships must follow to specially assess property; and 2) has defined the types of projects that can be paid for by special assessments.
Specially assessing real property is a complicated process. However, it is one of the best ways to ensure that the property owners who benefit from a special project share in the costs. Therefore, a specific levy is designated to cover the costs of improvements that confer local and peculiar benefits upon property within a defined area.
Within the special assessment process, there are two (2) distinctive hearings regarding the potential apportionment; a) a hearing on which properties are to be included within the special assessment district and 2) a hearing for the apportionment of taxes on those properties. It is illegal to include personal property in the assessment.
Indian Lake, in 2005, had an abundance of aquatic vegetation that had grown to the surface of the water and was covering a large portion lake area. Use of the lake was very limited. Boats with motors had to stop to clear weeds from the motor. Action had to be taken, therefore, the ILIA Board decided to apply for a special assessment. A petition, containing signatures of over 51% of the riparian property owners was obtained. This petition along with other documents requesting establishment of a special assessment district were submitted to both Silver Creek and Pokagon Townships. The documents requested all properties abutting or with deeded access to Indian Lake be included in the district. The control of aquatic vegetation within the lake was the improvement that conferred benefits to all lake properties.
The ILIA received approval of the proposed district boundaries and the levy amount that was to be assessed, by both Townships, following the necessary public hearings. Thus the S.A.D. was created and this initial program, for Indian Lake, was approved for a five (5) year period which extended through April 26, 2010 at an assessment of $4.00 per lineal foot of lake frontage. Subsequent extensions were approved by the townships through April 26, 2021. Slight increases in the assessment, due to the complexity of the management programs and just general contract implementation costs, were approved by the members. The current assessment, which was approved by the membership and townships, is $5.85 per lineal foot of lake frontage.
The ILIA is currently using a “four pronged” approach to meet its goal of PRESERVING, PROTECTING, and IMPROVING the quality of Indian Lake. These four approaches are summarized as follows:
The association owns a weed harvester, a conveyor unit and a dump truck which enables them to cut and remove weeds from the lake. Lake residents are receiving two benefits from this operation. The first is a reduction in organic material building up on the lake bottom and secondly an improved boating situation by lowering the height of weeds in the water column.
When determined necessary by our consultant the ILIA provides limited chemical treatment of excessive weed growth and only in those portions of the lake where the growth is excessive. One of the ILIA’s goals is to eventually eliminate use of chemicals in the lake and until that goal is achieved keep chemical use to a minimum.
Over the years excessive amounts of nutrients have entered the lake and contributed to the weed growth. These nutrients gather in the runoff water from adjacent agricultural properties, located in our watershed area, and eventually enter the lake through the north inlet. The ILIA has acquired adjacent wetlands, which now provides an opportunity to remove nutrients from the runoff water by using filtering devices in the water stream. Permits have been submitted to the state for implementation of a program to filter the runoff water, in the Mann Drain, before reaching the north inlet entering the lake.