Board weighs in on casino project issues

Jon Kangas, manager, Chocolay Township

MARQUETTE — Chocolay Township residents who live adjacent to new sewer infrastructure being constructed to benefit the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s Ojibwa Casino expansion will not be required to connect to it.

The Chocolay Township Board unanimously approved the second reading of an amendment to its wastewater collection system ordinance on Monday. The first reading was approved during the Jan. 14 board meeting.

Prior to the revision, ordinance language required all residents to connect to the sewer system as infrastructure became available. The amendment creates a waiver, which affects roughly 100 residents along the route of the 5-mile sewer system expansion, and is in effect for individual property owners until such time as an existing on-site septic system fails or an undeveloped property is developed to the extent of requiring a wastewater system.

The amendment language specifically waives the mandatory connection requirement for property that abuts the public rights-of-way of Riverside Road, Glenwood Road and M-28 East, starting with manhole No. 156 and ending at manhole No. 172, Township Manager Jon Kangas said.

“None of them asked for (the new sewer system),” Kangas said of the residents. “And we don’t currently have a public health crisis out there.”

Construction of the sewer main expansion started in August.

In related business, a motion to approve two advance pay requests from Gundlach Champion totaling $250,000 for work on the water tower that will serve the casino expansion and the KBIC tribal community failed to garner more than one vote.

The township has not received a $620,000 up-front payment for the $695,000 project.

The money will be reimbursed to KBIC by subtracting $62,000 annually from the township’s 2 percent gaming revenue payments over the next 10 years. The tribe is required by the state to disburse 2 percent of its gambling revenues to local municipalities and organizations.