THREE OAKS – Supervisor George Mangold, during the April 8 meeting of the Three Oaks Township Board, reported that township attorney David M. Peterson had filed legal paperwork with the court to help ascertain the status of the now vacant old Township Hall property located at 8 Linden Street by determining whether or not the unknown heirs, devisees, or assigns of Charles K. Warren have any interest in that parcel.

In 1915 Warren and his wife Fannie signed the deed to that property over to the township for a cost of one dollar with the express condition that the lot be used “…for the purpose of a town hall or public park or ground, school or some public and general use and not to be sold or converted to any private use, otherwise to revert to the grantor his heirs and assigns.”

It is that stipulation which has prevented the township officials from taking any action up to this point on any possible future uses for the historic structure that had been one of the oldest township halls still in use in the state.

Among other things, the paperwork Peterson filed with the court indicated that no known relatives of Warren were now known locally, and that on or about March 15, 2018 the plaintiff’s counsel emailed numerous possible relatives of Warren advising in their possible interest in this case, and no responses had been received.

On April 1 Peterson, on behalf of the township, requested that the court enter an order permitting the plaintiff to obtain service on the unknown heirs, devisees, or assigns of Charles K. Warren by publication as provided in newspaper(s) required by the court, and any other method the court finds reasonably calculated to give the heirs, devisees or assigns of Warren notice of this complaint.

Mangold and the Board members expressed thankfulness that progress in the matter was being made.

“A judge has been assigned to the case and a court date will be set, so we’re slowly working our way through this as to what we can or cannot do with that property,” Mangold said.

In other business, progress also continues to be made on the restoration project that will begin in the near future on the historic one-room Spring Creek School building that was built in 1886 by local farmers, loggers and merchants who realized the importance of education for their children and grandchildren.

Trustee Chris Mitchell, who has been spearheading the project, reported that the total budget for the project that will be done in two phases would be $164,000.

He reported that funding for the $87,500 initial phase of the work had included a $25,000 commitment from the township; a $20,000 grant from The Pokagon Fund; and $15,000 so far in private donations.

There are also pending grant applications that have been submitted to the Upton Foundation and the William Deputy Foundation.

A motion to accept the bid for the entire project of $164,119 from Harbert-based Red Arrow 2nd Home Services passed unanimously.

Mitchell expressed confidence that the first phase of the project that would include work focusing on strengthening the structure and improving the ceiling, floors, electrical and creating a second exit could begin and be completed this year.

A second motion to enter into an agreement with the Region of Three Oaks Museum to allow them to conduct and oversee future operations of the restored Spring Creek School building, pending approval by both parties, also received unanimous consent.

Mitchell also reported that he had produced and was distributing a brochure on the project throughout Harbor Country, and he hoped that would garner more interest and support by generous members of the community.

Also on the agenda, Mangold announced that an agreement to do two major 2019 road projects in the township with the Berrien County Road Department had been signed for a total cost of $72,731.

The work on Basswood Road will include leveling the roadbed and then priming and double sealcoating the surface from Kruger Road to Elm Valley Road at a cost of $38,862.

One mile of Schwark Road from Kruger Road to Elm Valley Road will have grinding done to the existing roadbed and then three inches of gravel will be spread, graded and leveled at a cost of $33,869.

Mangold said that the township’s share of the total road work cost would be $37,765, and of that amount about $33,000 would be provided via the township’s road millage.

The following updated zoning fees were approved unanimously: Land Division applications, $175; Special Land Use applications, $250; Rezoning applications, $350; special meetings of the Planning Commission, $350; PUD/Subdivision applications, $700; Zoning Board of Appeals, $175; and Plan Reviews, $200.

Finally, notice was given that all decorations at Forest Lawn Cemetery gravesides please be removed by May 1 so the annual cleanup work there prior to the Memorial Day weekend may be better facilitated. All decorations remaining there by May 5 will be removed by the maintenance crew.

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