Village council approves review, update of engineering standards

By Megan Kelley
Staff Writer
LAKE ORION — During its meeting on Oct. 23, the Lake Orion Village Council unanimously approved a review and update of the village’s 2013 engineering design and construction standards.
The proposal from village engineers Nowak & Fraus is expected to cost the village $31,400.
“There are a number of reasons (to update the village’s engineering standards) and the proposal is actually two fold. One is the actual written standards, and those are better sound judgment engineering practice. They’re not an ordinance; they’re primary practices, so there can be wiggle room, versus an ordinance. If there’s anything that deviates from the ordinance we have to come back to council. So, this allows some engineering judgment,” said village Engineer Carol Thurber.
“The reason is that the standards in general are outdated. They are only 10 years old but with our MS4 (Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System) we adopted a new ordinance last year that adopts WRC (Water Resources Commission) standards so those aspects of the ordinance are completely out of date. We have not addressed some of the newer pipes and materials and things like that,” Thurber said.
Additionally, the standard detail sheets that are submitted with construction plans when applying for permits has not been updated since 1987, Thurber said.
“We’re looking at 35-plus years old. I mean, they still detail manholes as brick. So, they really need to be updated,” said Thurber. “As a matter of fact, we had to beg, borrow and steal in order to get one of the water permits for Mystic Cove to go through because we didn’t have standards that met requirements. So, it’s time.”
Councilmember Nancy Moshier spoke to agree that these items did need updating, but noted that it was a significant amount of money to pay for people to continue to not follow the ordinance anyway.
“The ordinances have not been followed for many years. With the building, nothing has been done, nobody’s followed up. So, if we go through this process, who is going to enforce this?” Moshier said.
According to village Manager Darwin McClary, it is up to the village engineers to enforce the ordinance.
“Our engineers perform the reviews of all of the site plans, all of the projects that we undertake. For our projects, the engineers design our projects. But for private projects, site plans, what have you, our engineers review those site plans as far as the engineering details are concerned,” McClary said.
Moshier also pointed out that the village is paying for the project using funds from General, Public Works, Major Streets, Local Streets, Water and Sewer funds, as well as potentially other funds based on engineering recommendations.
Councilmember Ken Van Portfliet emphasized the necessity to update the standards as a number of construction projects prepare to break ground.
Thurber told council that she anticipates the update to take about 90 days.

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