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Published: Thursday, 4/18/2002

Townships, Adrian get mediator to ease feud

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ADRIAN - The city wants to annex land from its neighboring townships. The townships want to reclaim parcels from the city. And all will end up in court if they don't come to an agreement.

Neighboring Lenawee County communities have been feuding for months. Early next month, officials from Adrian, Madison Township, and Adrian Township will come together to try to work out their differences.

Former state senator Jim Berryman is among a group of eight area residents who recognize that the relationship among the three municipalities is at an all-time low. The group sought the services of a mediator to help the city and the townships see eye-to-eye.

“What we want to do is to bring all three sides together in an environment that is conducive to them coming up with a resolution to their problem,” Mr. Berryman said. “To do that, we thought it would be better to have a neutral third party to come in.”

The problems among the communities began late last year when the city placed an annexation issue on the November ballot. To stop the action, Adrian and Madison townships entered a so-called 425 agreement.

The action allowed Adrian Township to supply sewer services to its neighbor to the south while Madison Township helped its neighbor with water services. The move also prevented any annexation.

The issue went to court. Preliminary attempts to work out their differences failed and a July 18 trial date was set.

The relationship worsened when Adrian Township announced plans to detach some property from the city. Detachment is the process the township can use to try to reclaim land that had been annexed by the city.

“We will be successful if we come out of [the joint] meeting with an increased level of trust and an increased level of respect between these communities. Right now that's at zero.” Mr. Berryman said.

A town-hall meeting will be held for the communities sometime next month.

Leading the process will be Larry Lippitt of Florida, who designed a method of opening communications between feuding governments.

Representatives from each of the three boards said they hope the process will lead them to an acceptable solution.

“The feuding, and I'll say it again, is a waste of time, resources, and especially taxpayer's money, on both sides,” said Adrian Township Trustee Lindsey Jones. “I think that there is a solution to the problems on all sides out there. This has dragged on long enough.”

City Commissioner KZ Bolton of Adrian said she hopes for an understanding between the governments and an answer for area residents.

In particular, she said Adrian residents have questioned when it became a bad thing for a city to grow modestly.

Madison Township Supervisor Ted Dusseau said officials in both townships feel there is no negotiating with the city. This meeting, he said, could produce a middle ground.



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