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Upper Straits Maintenance Special Assessment District (S.A.D)

Bloomfield Approves SAD, Mirroring Orchard Lake’s SAD For Uniform Maintenance of Upper Straits Lake

On Monday January 23rd the Charter Township of West Bloomfield completed the approval of a Special Assessment District (S.A.D.).  This combines with a similar S.A.D. already in place with the City of Orchard Lake Township that will fund annual maintenance of Upper Straits Lake (which borders both communities). These S.A.D.’s will address  “among other things weed harvesting and/or herbicide application, goose control, and the employment of a lake ecology consultant for Upper Straits Lake.”


This is a major and vital step in helping to find a financially sustainable and fair method of funding the annual costs required to keep our beautiful lake well-maintained into the future. 


A new intergovernmental entity, the Upper Straits Lake Management and Aquatic Advisory Board will: oversee the funds collected, review the environmental consultant’s recommendations each year, award the annual maintenance contracts, and approve the payment for contracts after completion of the work. This new entity includes two elected members of The City of Orchard Lake and West Bloomfield Township and two representatives from the Upper Straits Clean Lake Association (USCLA) Board. 


USCLA is an all volunteer organization with more than 50 years of experience related to sustaining the healthy ecology of Upper Straits Lake, in addition to various lake-wide social events, and includes representatives from all of the Associations on the lake.


USCLA was the group that took the lead in this effort to establish this new approach to funding the maintenance of the lake. Most larger lakes in our area use a similar approach. 


Previously, USCLA would ask for voluntary donations to support the maintenance expenses, but this has become an increasingly unreliable source of funding and many times would create a financial shortfall for the recommended treatments. This new approach will create a more reliable source of funding and shares that cost with everyone that enjoys the beauty and recreational benefits of Upper Straits Lake. 


USCLA will no longer be asking lake residents to assist with the annual cost of weed management, and will focus its activities on community development and social activities.  USCLA may continue asking for community support through modest voluntary annual dues.  For more information, their website is:


Questions & Answers About the Upper Straits Lake SAD’s

1) How were the lakefront and associations assessed?  For example was it by lake front feet, appraised value of the home, some combination? 

The assessments are exactly as established for the lake level control SAD for the dam – by units of benefit as developed by the Oakland County Water Resources Commission and approved by the courts during the most recent update on the roll in 2018 for the new dam. For the Lake Improvement SAD the municipal lawyers from both WB & OL suggested using the same roll to avoid confusion.

2) Were the lakefront and associations on the West Bloomfield and Orchard Lake sides assessed the same way? 


3) Where can I find the actual written SAD legal documents?  

The Orchard Lake and West Bloomfield SAD’s documents are linked below:

        Orchard Lake – Upper Straits Lake Resolution 1

        Orchard Lake – Upper Straits Lake Resolution 2

        Orchard Lake – Upper Straits SAD Doc        

        West Bloomfield Resolution and Confirmation of Upper Straits Maintenance S.A.D.        

4) What was SBIA’s annual assessment?  

SBIA was assessed 16.5 units of benefit (16.5 x $280) or $4,620 annually, as established by the Oakland County Water Resources Commission prior to the 2018 new dam construction based on their assessment of various factors primarily involving number of boat slips.

5) Will this impact SBIA member dues or fees?

No.  The SBIA board discussed this in the most recent meeting and decided to not increase dues or fees.

6) What was Bayside’s assessment?   

Bayside was assessed 12 units of benefit (12 x $280) or $3,360 annually, same as the formula established for the Upper Straits Dam SAD.

7) Were smaller associations, like Lakeside, assessed the same way? 

Following the model established by the Upper Straits Dam SAD, only the larger associations were included using the same units of benefit. For the smaller associations, the parcel owned by the association was given one unit of benefit just like any other lakefront parcel.

8) Who are the two representatives from USCLA that will be on the new board? 

John Bull and Dave Boerger

9)  What’s going on with the lake augmentation well project?

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) denied our permit for the well, so the Oakland County Water Resources Commission (WRC) and Upper Straits Clean Lake Association (USCLA) jointly appealed the denial. The legal proceedings are moving slowly due to Covid backlogs, with a ruling by the appointed administrative law judge expected by May 2023. In the meantime, all the USL riparians have been charged a fee on their winter tax bill covering expenses associated with lake level control and legal/administrative costs for the appeal.