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Dexter Will Petition State Boundary Commission to Reconsider Cityhood Ruling

Dexter Village Council officials will go before the panel in Lansing on Thursday.

After expressing ongoing frustration with the State Boundary Commission over unsuccessful efforts to turn Dexter into a city, members of the Dexter Village Council will attempt to plead their case on Thursday.

The council voted 6-1 on Monday to attend the commission's meeting and ask commissioners to reconsider their August ruling, which deemed the village's cityhood-boundary petition due to land disputes between Webster Township and the Dexter Area Historical Society.

"Their ruling was arbitrary and capricious," village attorney Tom Ryan said during a workshop with the council prior to Monday's meeting. "It concluded things that weren't part of their obligation and aren't part of the law."

Village President Shawn Keough and Trustee Paul Cousins agreed to attend the meeting and suggested council members seek guidance from the commission on how to move forward with a future petition.

"At some point in time we're going to have to make a decision on how to move forward. Either we're going to say we're done or that we're going to take the next step or change something in the petition," Cousins said. "My problem is changing something. I don't get how we're going to know what they'll want and how we'll have any better chance (at cityhood) than we did last time, knowing how they operate."

Cousins said in particular he was frustrated with Washtenaw County Commissioner Wes Prater for seconding the motion to vote down the cityhood-boundary petition.

"I believe he's trying to punish us," Cousins said.

Pending the outcome of Thursday's meeting, Ryan said Dexter has the option to appeal the commission's decision to circuit court. If the village pursues an appeal, Ryan said the court could either remand the village's petition for further review or deny the claim outright.

"They could say (the State Boundary Commission) has met their burden on the statute, but I think if we went to circuit court we would have an actual case and show that our petition was legally sufficient," Ryan said. "Then we could get a public hearing and move on."

Dexter resident Sue Betz said she was concerned the village was spending too much taxpayer money pursuing the issue.

"At what point did you guys decide you had unlimited funds to pursue cityhood?" Betz asked. "You're already out $47,000, and now you're talking litigation. What point are you going to say enough?"

Trustee Joe Semifero said one reason why the council continues to pursue cityhood is to save taxpayers $250,000 a year.

"I would spend $50,000 to save $200,000 every time, twice on Sunday," Semifero said.

Drawing on other municipalities, Cousins said the city of Chelsea paid $150,000 while pursuing cityhood.

"It's not cheap," Keough said. "There hasn't been a consensus that we're spending too much."

Joe Scheuring September 13, 2011 at 02:18 PM
My sense is that cityhood is not the will of the residents or the surrounding communities that will be annexed. I believe residents for the most part would like to remain in a village.
Don Darnell September 14, 2011 at 02:22 PM
Its worth the fight to continue, but it seems embarrasing that Dexter gets rejected twice for being "legally insufficent." Perhaps its time to examine the quality of the effort.

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