Updates to the Benzie-Leelanau Sanitary Code Thanks to an Aspire North REALTOR®; Statewide Septic Code Bills Introduced in the Michigan House and Senate; and a Call to Action to Make Housing an Allowable Use of TIF District
You may not want to eat while reading this week’s GAD Top Three, because we're kicking things off by talking septic! There has been a recent update to the Benzie-Leelanau Point-of-Transfer Sanitary Code thanks to the work of one of our Aspire North REALTOR members! Secondly, a statewide septic proposal has been introduced with bi-partisan support, and lastly, there's a call to action to make housing an allowable use of Tax Increment Financing (or TIF).
1. Updates to the Benzie-Leelanau Sanitary Code Thanks to an Aspire North REALTOR!
As you may be aware, in late January 2023 the Benzie-Leelanau Health Department updated its Sanitary Code to require a Point of Transfer Septic inspection in Leelanau County, not just Benzie County. The first selling season in Leelanau County since this new requirement has been put in place resulted in some pain points (at a minimum). One pain point, discovered by Aspire North REALTOR and Aspire North Public Policy Committee member, Kara Gelven, was some septic systems that were functioning properly, however, were originally built with undersized septic systems, or a permitted addition was made on their homes that resulted in their septic system being undersized. These undersized systems were immediately receiving unsatisfactory inspections from the Benzie-Leelanau County Health Department, which under the Benzie-Leelanau Health Department Sanitary Code Section 6.5 requires submission of “a proposed corrective action that will remediate, abate or prevent any such substantial nonconformance or endangerment” and then “all necessary corrective action shall be completed within one hundred twenty (120) days of Health Department approval.”
This was creating a situation in which some properties were in a situation where a tank replacement (costing as much as $25,000 to $35,000) was required for a currently properly functioning septic system to allow someone to sell and/or transfer their property. This barrier was potentially making some lower-income homes unsellable because of the $25,000 to $35,000 required upgrades to transfer a property. Kara Gelven brought this situation to the attention of the Benzie-Leelanau Health Department and after a staff meeting the next day, they revised some of their unsatisfactory inspections due to undersized septic systems to satisfactory! It is our understanding that this will be how the Benzie-Leelanau Health Department will be handling these situations going forward. Kudos to Kara for her efforts and an important reminder of the Point of Transfer policy in Leelanau County now active in Leelanau County. All Point of Transfer policies in the Northwest Michigan region can be found on the Aspire North Local and State Sewer, Septic, and Well Information webpage.
2. Statewide Septic Code Bills Introduced in the Michigan House and Senate
On Thursday, April 27th, Michigan House Bills 4479 and 4480 and Michigan Senate Bills 299 and 300 were introduced which would require inspection of residential septic wastewater systems every five (5) years. These bills are a resurrection of an approach attempted back in 2018, led in large part by Michigan REALTORS, to put in place a required inspection every 10 years (these Michigan House Bills were 5752 and 5753) For those who are unaware, Michigan is the only state to not have uniform standards governing the design, construction, installation, and maintenance of septic systems. In fact, only 11 of Michigan’s 83 counties require septic inspections (3 of those counties with Point of Transfer inspections are in our region, Benzie, Kalkaska, and Leelanau). With at least 1.3 million to 1.4 million onsite septic systems, according to Michigan Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE (source: https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/michigan-regulations-septic-system-codes-property-rights/). It is understood that additional funding and support will be needed for EGLE and county health departments, as well as for some homeowners, if these bills were to go into effect. We (Aspire North REALTORS) will continue to monitor and lend our voice to this process, as appropriate, as this legislation moves forward. Reach out to me (email@example.com) or the Aspire North Public Policy Committee Chair Scott Hardy (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to join the Aspire North REALTORS Public Policy Committee to lend your voice to these association advocacy and policy efforts.
3. A Call to Action to Make Housing an Allowable Use of TIF Districts
Housing North - a cross-sector group of regional housing partners working to overcome the communications, policy, and financial barriers that stand in the way of housing solutions - put out a Call to Action last week to voice support for Michigan State Senate Bills 129-132 which would make housing an allowable use of Tax Increment Financing districts. These bills expand the current Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to include affordable housing development and activity. For plans that include housing plans, MSHDA will be included as an approving authority. These bills were part of a package of housing bills that passed last year but were left behind when an agreement could not be reached with the Department of Treasury on certain aspects. Treasury is now ok with the bills. These Senate bills have passed the Michigan Senate and are currently in the Michigan House Economic Development and Small Business Committee. The Michigan REALTORS Public Policy Committee has expressed support for these bills and if you would like to offer your own support for these bills, you are invited to contact Michigan House Economic Development and Small Business Committee members which include our Northern Michigan representatives Betsy Coffia (phone: 517-373-3817, email: email@example.com) and John Roth (phone: 517-373-1766, email: JohnRoth@house.mi.gov). Unsure who your representative is? Find out here!