Dexter to ask state boundary commission to reconsider its denial of cityhood
Representatives from the Village of Dexter and special counsel Tom Ryan will go to Thursday’s State Boundary Commission meeting and ask it to reconsider the recent decision that has stalled Dexter’s quest for cityhood for a second time.
Citing “legal insufficiency,” the boundary commission unanimously denied the village’s proposed boundaries, which include two parcels located in Webster Township. At issue is an Act 425 agreement that includes Gordon Hall.
Village President Shawn Keough said village officials will “ask commission members to reconsider their motion and ask that they release the attorney general’s opinion (which supported the boundary) in an open session.” Keough also said the village has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the state's complete file regarding the village's cityhood petition.
In a memo to the Village Council, Ryan said he was “sorely disappointed” in the decision, but it “will not be final until the minutes are approved at the commission’s Sept. 15 meeting.”
The memo states, “It will be very difficult for the commission to reconsider its decision, but, I believe we should make the effort in any case, just to put the commission on notice that we are very unhappy with their decision and the purported reasons for their decision; we are not going away quietly.”
If the minutes are approved, the village has 60 days to appeal the decision to the Circuit Court, the memo states. This could take place either in Washtenaw County or in Ingham County, where the boundary commission hearings take place, and cost between $5,000-$10,000.
Then, it would be up to a judge to decide whether land in a 425 agreement can be incorporated into a new Home Rule City.
Councilman Jim Carson said, “Before we do anything, I think we should sit down once again with the historical society and Webster Township to see if we can come up with an amicable solution that would satisfy all parties.”
Councilman Paul Cousins said he wants the cityhood issue put in front of the voters and said he’d like to see the village pursue a court decision.
“We will follow this process (of cityhood) through. In order to do this, we need to get a vote of the people. Let's see what they think,” he said. "If they don't want it, then they'll tell us."
After the original village boundaries were found “legally insufficient” on April 12, 2010, the council voted to resubmit the petition and changed the boundaries to include Gordon Hall and the back half of the Mill Creek Sporting Goods store property so all the new city corners meet. The new boundaries square off the corner and make them contiguous.
At both boundary commission hearings, both the Dexter Area Historical Society and Webster Township objected to including Gordon Hall in the proposed city limits.
Among other possible steps are either submitting a new legal boundary for the city or taking its position to circuit court.
The council adopted a resolution declaring its intent to pursue city status and incorporate as the City of Dexter in May 2007. For more information, go to Dexter’s website.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter with AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Dexter stories, visit our Dexter page.