Residents from four townships gathered in Hamburg Wednesday night for a public hearing about the proposed cleanup of a series of lakes.

The Washtenaw County Board of Public Works held their first of 2 required hearings regarding the Chain of Lakes Improvement Project. The project looks to address and clean up weeds on many of the bodies of water between Hamburg, Putnam, Dexter, and Webster Townships. Those bodies include Portage, Bass Line, Bass, Zukey, and Strawberry Lake. To pay for the project, more than 2500 parcels with lake frontage or access could be assigned into a special assessment district and charged between $100 and $700 for each of the next 5 years, depending on property type. Lake access parcels would be set at $100 per year, lakefront properties would be assigned $175 per year, and commercial properties would be on the books for $700 per year.

Lake Management Consultant Dr. Doug Pullman addressed the standing-room-only crowd warning of the spreading dangers of milfoil and starry stonewort especially, two invasive and nuisance plants. Following the hearing he addressed some resident’s skepticism about the chemicals that would be used. He said when they target something with aquatic herbicide, they can target 1 or 2 specific species of plant, and pinpoint the intrusive ones. He continued saying there has been a lot of testing with these herbicides, and that they are targeted at plants, and at things that are specific to plants. Pullman said it gives them a huge margin of safety for humans. A 24 no-swim rule would be in effect after treatment, Pullman said, not because of the dangers to humans swimming, but to allow the herbicide to do its job.

Others believed it unfair that marinas and yacht clubs would only be taxed $700 a year while allowing up to 200 boats access. The board said they could not comment on that without asking their legal team first and would have more information at the next required hearing. Most that spoke still believed that despite their questions and concerns that something needed to be done with the weeds. The next hearing is tentatively scheduled for April 19th. Public Works staff announced they would have office hours at the Hamburg Township Offices for residents with question on March 23rd from 1pm to 4pm, and on March 29th from 9am to noon. More information on the project can be found through the link below. (MK)