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Mount Pleasant City Commission discusses various topics during Oct. 14 meeting


Paul Lippens presents the draft for the Mount Pleasant 2050 Master Plan to the Mount Pleasant City Commission during the Oct 14 City Commission meeting. Lippens is from McKenna & Associates, who helped create the draft.

Parcel B, the 2020 budget, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the 2050 Master Plan and more were discussed during the Oct. 14 Mount Pleasant City Commission meeting.

The meeting had around 30 items on its agenda, featuring six public hearings, a drum ceremony from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, a master plan presentation and a one-hour work session. Two of the public hearings discussed tax abatements regarding the 410 W. Broadway St. property.

Parcel B Tax Abatements

The City Commission approved two applications for 50 percent tax abatements for the commercial and residential parts of the Parcel B project, referring to the property on 410 W. Broadway St. next to the City Hall building. Both applications passed with 4-2 votes, with commissioners Lori Gillis and Petro Tolas being the dissenting votes on each (commissioner Kristin LaLonde was absent from the meeting).

The proposed Parcel B project would be a 50,000 square foot building with a mix of commercial and residential use. According to the commission meeting agenda, the first floor would house two commercial tenants, one of them being Green Tree Cooperative Groceries and the other is to be announced. The rest would be two to four floors of 47 various sized apartments.

The tax abatements would reduce taxes by 50 percent for 12 years for the commercial sections of the project and for 15 years for the residential parts, said Mount Pleasant City Manager, Nancy Ridley. She said early estimates in 2018 anticipated 100 percent tax abatements, but later details of the project only qualified the project for 50 percent.

She said the estimated value of the abatements over the first 15 years would be $1.2 million dollars across all units of government. Of that amount, the city’s portion is estimated at $340,000.

Marilyn Crowley is the vice president of investments for Michigan Community Capital, the company that Ridley said would buy the Parcel B property. Crowley said the project is moving forward, with them being in the finishing stages of construction drawings. The project is now pending support from the commission.

“Pending your support tonight, we’ll be able to close and purchase the land in December per our amended agreement,” Crowley said. “We should be able to start construction as early as March if the weather is cooperative.”

Ling said she supports the Parcel B project because community has indicated that they want this project for downtown. She also said this project would fill the “missing middle” type of housing, which is housing to fill the need for single families and students, according to the meeting agenda. She said there are people in Mount Pleasant now who would fill these kinds of apartments.

But some people on city commission have concerns with this project. Gillis said Mount Pleasant has many housing options that can be filled by students and single families and doesn’t want to use Parcel B to fill the missing middle. She also said she doesn’t see an industry coming to Mount Pleasant to bring in people to fill the missing middle. Instead, she said that piece of property would be a prime spot for an amphitheater or a hotel.

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe Drum Ceremony

At the start of the meeting, Mount Pleasant City Mayor, Will Joseph, made a proclamation recognizing Oct. 14 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He gave a speech about Mount Pleasant recognizing the official boundaries of the Isabella Indian Reservation in 2010 and educating people about Indian cultures that survived a violent colonization process.

Representatives from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe perform a drum ceremony during the Oct. 14 Mount Pleasant City Commission meeting.

Chief Ronald Ekdahl thanked Joseph and the other commissioners for the recognition for Indigenous People’s Day. He that he’s proud to be in a city that has made this ceremony and recognition a tradition every year.

“Whether you agree or disagree with today, I think it’s a great opportunity to learn and educate yourselves,” Ekdahl said.

He then introduced representatives from the tribe to perform a drum ceremony for the commissioners and citizens in attendance. The drums boomed throughout the commission room in front of the commissioners and gathered community members.

Mount Pleasant 2020 Budget

The commissioners met in a work session for the last hour of the meeting to discuss goals and the 2020 operating budget. They spoke about things they would like to focus on in 2020, including the 2050 Master Plan, infrastructure, city internships and getting a complete count in the 2020 census.

Commissioner Tony Kulick said Central Michigan University students would play a role in determining the count. He said the biggest undercount from the previous few censuses were from students living off campus, since on-campus students are easily accounted for.

“Even if (on-campus students) don’t fill out the forms, all those records are provided by CMU,” Kulick said. “We need to make sure that we somehow target those off-campus students.”

Tolas and Gillis also expressed doubts about road projects in the draft Master Plan like rerouting M-20. He said the Michigan Department of Transportation has control over that project, not the city.

Other Commission Highlights:

· Paul Lippens from McKenna & Associates presented the 2050 Mount Pleasant Master Plan draft to the City Commission. Lippens already presented the draft to the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Downtown Development Authority and the Planning Commission on Oct 3. Lippens talked about possible changes to M-20, Mission Street and parks during his presentation.

· There were four public hearings on changes to the Mount Pleasant zoning ordinance regarding things like recycling receptacle requirements, stacked parking, driveways, fencing and roof pitches. The regulations on roof pitches is what brought local builder Mike Theunissen to the podium. He expressed concerns about roof pitches when he said high the roof pitches would make building projects more costly, since workers can’t walk a roof that steep and more materials are used. the zoning change would limit roof pitches between 6:12 and 14:12, according to the meeting agenda. All four text changes were passed by the commission in a unanimous vote, except for the text change regarding roof pitches, driveways and fencing. This text change passed in a 5-1 vote, with Tolas being the dissenting vote.

· The commission passed, in a unanimous vote, to approve a firework display on Dec. 7 for the Mount Pleasant fireworks parade. Ridley said the one done for last year’s parade was so well received that citizens asked for it to be replicated. However, she said state law does not allow fireworks on that date unless the city commission allows it to occur. The WCFX radio station has agreed to help fund the fireworks.

· The commission also approved the Make it Mount Pleasant program in a 5-1 vote, with Tolas being the dissenting vote. Ridley said it’s a rent-subsidy program for new or expanded businesses in the downtown area and two of these businesses’ subsidies would be funded by Lake Trust Credit Union.