Big Rapids takes first step to form brownfield authority

BUSINESS: Big Rapids Treasurer Jon Locke and city attorney Eric Williams, listen as City Manager Steve Sobers discusses one of the topics on the agenda at the city commission meeting on Monday. (Pioneer photo/Lonnie Allen)

BUSINESS: Big Rapids Treasurer Jon Locke and city attorney Eric Williams, listen as City Manager Steve Sobers discusses one of the topics on the agenda at the city commission meeting on Monday. (Pioneer photo/Lonnie Allen)

Commissioners approve more than $40,000 in expenditures for proposed authority

BIG RAPIDS — To revitalize economic areas in the city that are considered distressed, functionally obsolete or blight, Big Rapids City Commissioners took the first step to form a brownfield authority on Monday.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to begin the process of their intention to form and provide for the operation of a brownfield redevelopment authority within the city. Commissioner Dan Rothstein did not attend the meeting.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Mayor Mark Warba. “This is the first of several steps that get the ball rolling.”

At 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3, a public hearing will be held during the commission meeting giving city residents a chance to weigh-in before commissioners consider the adoption of a resolution to form the authority.

If commissioners choose to adopt the resolution on Nov. 3, then the next step would be to appoint a governing board.

“The intent is to begin the process and implement our own brownfield authority by the end of the year,” said City Manager Steve Sobers.

In other actions, commissioners voted 4-0 on two more resolutions relating to brownfield redevelopment within the city.

The first action approved is a work order, which appropriates $9,800 of city funds to pay AKT Peerless — the company the city contracts with on brownfield redevelopment.

The money will be used in a seven step process to help set up a brownfield authority in the city.

Eric Helzer, a representative with AKT Peerless who attended the meeting, told commissioners the resolution allows him to help with the process of setting up the authority.

If the city decides not to move forward with the creation of the authority on Nov. 3, it will only be billed for the services completed, Helzer said.

“Everything is time and materials,” Helzer said. “We only bill the progress. If the city stops the process at anytime, there will be no further charges.”

The second action approved was to appropriate $40,000 to write a brownfield redevelopment plan to assist Ernest Schaefer, owner of Campus Village Properties, with developing the former Hanchett manufacturing site on the corner of Baldwin and State streets, Sobers said.

“(Schaefer) is working with the city on development of the site,” Sobers said. “This resolution covers the cost writing a brownfield plan.”

The cost breakdown is $10,000 to consult and support the city, $15,000 for writing the brownfield plan and $15,000 for writing the Act 381 plan to help capture education dollars, Sobers said.

City residents should not be concerned about the money being spent to write a brownfield plan because money can be reclaimed as the project moves forward, Sobers said.

“Each of the expenditures are all recoverable through the proceeds of the project” Sobers said.

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Posted by Lonnie Allen

Lonnie is the Pioneer's city/county reporter. He also coordinates the Gardens and Growers page. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8328 or by e-mail at lallen@pioneergroup.com.

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