Squabble grows over large water well in Michigan

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By Irvin L. Jackson

GREEN OAK TOWNSHIP, Nov. 7, 2000 (The Detroit News) — Local developer George Bacalis thinks Green Oak Township is trying to steal his well.

Township officials are investigating a state law that says any well serving more than 15 people has to be offered to the surrounding municipality before it can be sold to anyone else.

Bacalis said it is a thinly veiled effort to snatch the large well he has built at Rickett and Winans Lake Road. The well can produce up to 9 million gallons of water a day.

The law, Act 399, says the township has first dibs on the well, and that Bacalis can only seek to sell it elsewhere after the township has rejected its opportunity to buy the well.

Supervisor Jan Plas said the township has not yet closed the door on buying the well, but Bacalis said the township has already turned him down and now has changed its mind.

"They are trying to take it without paying," Bacalis said. "This is their third feeble attempt."

Plas said the township would try to negotiate to buy the well at a fair price.

At a township board meeting Wednesday night, Supervisor-elect Mark St. Charles agreed with Bacalis that the township had its chance and gave it up.

St. Charles said in early 1999, in a 4-3 vote, the township rejected an offer to buy the well.

But Plas said the township had not awarded Bacalis the franchise rights on the well yet, which still gave it the opportunity to ask to buy the well.

Township officials will have their attorneys look into the law further and would check their own records to clarify whether the township had already used its right of refusal.

The well is expected to be the centerpiece for a new regional water authority formed by Green Oak, Hamburg and Brighton townships and the city of Brighton. It is considered one of the largest producing ground wells in the state.

The water authority, which will have its first meeting sometime after the general election, is considering buying the well from Bacalis and have the well controlled by the authority.

If Green Oak buys the well, it would have sole control.

© 2000 The Detroit News via Bell&Howell Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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