Manistee entrepreneur wants to start shipping again

Ed Seng is hoping to develop this property on Manistee Lake.

Ed Seng is hoping to develop this property on Manistee Lake.

MANISTEE — Seeing the need to put people back to work and put his land back to use, Manistee entrepreneur Ed Seng wants to once again use property in Manistee’s peninsula district as a deep-water shipping port.

In 2008, Seng sold part of his shipping business, Seng Dock & Trucking, and signed a development agreement with the City of Manistee that attempted to move the peninsula from an industrial use to residential and commercial development.

“I believed in the peninsula project in 2008,” Seng said. “The peninsula project in 2013 is not going to work for the City of Manistee. It’s not going to work for me. It’s not going to work in the State of Michigan.”

Seng said that the state is seeing few development projects and others have gone bankrupt as a result of the economic recession in the past several years.

“Was the project viable,” he questioned. “In 2008, I believe it was. But right now, my property the way it is, has no value. I have spent over $60,000 having studies done and things drawn. I have been to more developers and trying to push this, but I’m getting tired of getting laughed at. They said the best use of the property, is that you are on a deep-water port, on a state harbor, international waterway, go to work and put people to work.”

Now, he said, he would like to shift the property back to its original focus and make it a deep water port for shipping and receiving. Instead of shipping stones, he said he would like to ship pulpwood from Manistee to Escanaba.

At a meeting of the Manistee City Council last week, Seng said that his venture would create between three and five full-time jobs, but the operation would have a “ripple effect” on 200 other jobs in the state.

“There’s a lot of opportunity,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to put people to work. I believe that’s what this community needs. I believe that’s what I need. Anything we can do to put people back to work, I am for.”

The shipping operation would rely on five to six trucks on weekdays during business hours and two barges a week during the summer.

To grant Seng’s request, the City of Manistee would have to revoke the 2008 development agreement and grant a zoning amendment for the land.

“If the agreement isn’t revoked, there’s no reason for him to apply for a zoning amendment,” said Denise Blakeslee, Manistee planning and zoning administrator. “The application for a zoning amendment is a $1,000 cost to ask the question of the planning commission, then there’s a public hearing, and then it goes to the council review committee and then it goes to city council. It is a lengthy process.”

Blakeslee said that the process typically about takes three to four months.

“I’m not for or against the project right now, I haven’t formed an opinion,” said council member Bob Hornkohl. “But one concern is, we have put over $1 million into the peninsula to develop it. New roads, new infrastructure, new lights, to try to beautify that.”

Council members agreed to study Seng’s request and revisit the issue at a work session on Jan. 14.

“We have a lot of information here to read and go through,” said Manistee mayor Colleen Kenny. “No decisions will be made tonight. I know I would certainly like time to read through what was presented and put this on a future (work session agenda).”

Seng asked them to move as quickly as possible so he doesn’t lose his opportunity.

“If I can proceed forward, I can work on my contracts to create these jobs,” he said. “As it stands right now, I can’t. If I can’t produce soon, the opportunity is going to leave.”

 

 

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Posted by Eric Sagonowsky

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