FARMINGTON - Residents of the Mystic Meadows subdivision packed Farmington City Hall to talk about Lake Ann and get answers about the future of the recreational uses on the waterfront properties.

More than 60 residents were present and a few spoke during citizens comments during Farmington City Council's meeting on April 1.

A few voiced concerns about Lake Ann, which abuts the backyard of private properties. Some spoke of how neighbors use the lake throughout summer and winter months for recreational purposes.

Council discussions have addressed the encroachments under the advisement of legal counsel about the homes near Lake Ann within the Mystic Meadows neighborhood. The council dived into deep discussion on how to best handle encroachments within the neighborhood at a third work session held March 11.

The city will work with residents to address how to deal with Lake Ann, a large stormwater pond, and how some homeowners have installed docks, retaining walls, landscaping and fire pits near the water line near their private properties.

The neighborhood's nine out lots were supposed to be deeded to the city upon the project completion, but due to the economic recession and instability at that time, the out lots are now in the tax forfeiture process. The city possessed little recourse to correct the encroachments since it was taking place on private property. Through the tax forfeiture process, the city placed a six-month administrative hold on these nine out lots and will be reacquiring the out lots.

Residents' comments

Mystic Meadows resident Reannon Norland spoke as a concerned citizen who said her family and friends enjoy fishing, kayaking and watching the dogs splash around in the water on warm summer days.

Norland said the last 22 months have become troublesome for residents due to the lack of transparency from the city. She also voiced concerns over the disrepair of the walking path and the lakeshore.

Residents shared a packet of information with photos of Lake Ann and how the lake is used for recreational purposes throughout the year.

Norland shared that willow trees have destroyed walking paths and created craters, some stretching several feet. She said residents do not want to lose the recreational area of the water and the paths to enjoy.

"On behalf of the neighbors of Lake Ann, I want to thank you all for allowing us the time to speak at this meeting," Mystic Meadows resident Ginny Running said. "This isn't about us trying to be defiant, we care tremendously about this lake and we realize accessing Lake Ann from our properties is complex and for most of us who have either built or bought on Lake Ann, it has been confusing as well."

Mixed messages

Running said the vast majority of residents were given approval from the developer to access Lake Ann from their properties. But she said they have received mixed messages from the city staff regarding to what degree.

"This contradictory information between the city staff and the developer has been highlighted in an email way back in 2005," Running said.

The email communicates how the city and developer stated Lake Ann was a public body of water and how lake lots would be marketed to allow small watercraft like canoes and kayaks, and the DNR would stock the water with fish.

"We know there is so much to consider and we don't know if deeded access is an option, but we want to work with you to come to an agreement that allows us the chance to continue enjoying the water through access from our property," Running said. "Lake Ann is an asset to our community and we have visitors that come from all over our town throughout the summer and the winter that come to enjoy this lake."

"Many of us bought or built our homes solely because of the recreational aspect of the lake and we were told we would enjoy swimming, fishing and using non-motorized watercraft," resident Kimberly Scheuring said. "In fact, I paid a premium just to have access to the shores of Lake Ann and I was sold the minute we walked into the model and looked out the back window and saw kids swimming."

Two children spoke on behalf of the lake and the summer fun they share with family and friends and the winter adventures with ice skating and hockey.

"Transparency is a word that has been used a lot when speaking of our city government lately and particularly in the last round of elections," Running said. "It is imperative to know what your ideas and plans are before that meeting on the 23rd so we are fully prepared to engage with you on this issue."

The city plans a community meeting for residents to attend at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, at Akin Road Elementary School. Residents will soon receive notices of the meeting.

There are 98 residential, single-family home properties in the neighborhood. Within the city of Farmington, nearly 200 water ponds have various levels of encroachment and these issues will need to be addressed in the future.