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Fate of Richland village will soon rest with voters after heated meeting

RICHLAND, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The fate of a small West Michigan village will soon rest with its voters.

This comes after a heated meeting Thursday night about whether to dissolve the village of Richland.

Tensions were high and many took to the microphone to express concerns about all the unknowns surrounding the possibility of dissolving the village.

The future of Richland is in question, and that uncertainty drew dozens to the standing room only meeting.

The idea of dissolving the village has resurfaced after more than a decade.

"I'm sorry that we have to go through it again; we've been through it twice," said Robert Brinkerhoff, a former village council member, who serves on the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, and favors keeping the village.

The re-energized issue is dividing residents and is stirring up tensions.

"It's a function of years of frustration; it's an antiquated form of government. We don't need them. Village voters have asked for the township's help. We're trying to get it to them," said Tim Vandermeulen, a member of the dissolve committee.

One group is fighting for their town's existence--like Brinkerhoff.

"All the people who live here in the village willingly pay their taxes, and they make that decision when they move here because that's a great place to live," he said.

On the other side, people like Vandermeulen, who want to see the village absorbed.

"In the past there may have been philosophical reasons for it, but now the township is in unison with the village," Vandermeulen said.

Some say the divide is centered around costly village services and the potential increase in cost for public safety. But others say it is just an excuse.

Richland Township and Richland Village will vote on May 3.

It will take a 2/3 vote to pass the proposal to dissolve the village.

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