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Property Owners Must Foot $2M Bill for Dam

(CN) - The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that a county's decision to stick property owners with the $2 million cost of rebuilding Chappel Dam did not violate due process.

When the Chappel Dam holding back Wiggins Lake near Sage Township began to deteriorate, the Gladwin County drain commissioner determined that it should be repaired at a cost of just over $2 million. The drain commission decided, based on who receives the greatest benefits of the lake, that property owners in a special district should pay 95 percent of the dam repair cost.

Although the property owners protested at a public hearing, Gladwin County commissioners voted to approve the special assessment. On appeal, the circuit court affirmed the county's decision.

Landowners again appealed, claiming they should have been granted a more involved review process under drain code. The state appeals court determined that drain code was excluded from the Inland Lake Levels Act, which gives the circuit court authority to decide such matters.

Because the affected landowners were properly notified and were given the opportunity to register their protests, and because county officials explained their reasoning and answered questions - opposing viewpoints culminating in a circuit court hearing - property owners were not denied due process, the appeals court concluded.

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