A Community News Organ

August Council Meeting Report: Creeping Out

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm

This report is an amended version of the Issue 7 print version. Amendments are shown in brackets.

COUNCIL BEGAN the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time in recent memory.

During the agenda approval period Ken Holmes said the Village has been lax about enforcing the junk ordinance, and recommended a yard maintenance ordinance be added.  “I feel bad when I see overgrowth in someone’s yard and the next yard is clean. How long will it be before they let theirs go too?” he said. Reg Manville said the matter could be discussed at the September meeting.

During initial public comment Carolee Ness brought up the visibility problem due to parked cars at the junction of Acre and Frankfort Ave./M-22. She suggested the Village could ask MDOT to apply yellow paint and post no-parking signs on either side of the 100 block of Acre. Reg agreed that the situation was bad there and by the post office: “You have to creep out, creep out, creep out, and hope nobody’s coming,” but said that nevertheless it was a great problem to have, referring to the patronage of the Lighthouse Café. Ken Holmes was wary of eliminating any parking: “If people don’t find parking, what do they do? They drive off.” Ken suggested that the Lighthouse Café could post signs indicating parking in the rear. The DPW will put up no-parking signs on Acre.

Carol Navarro of the Benzie Conservation District spoke on the Emerald Ash Borer Community Preparedness Plan. The insect was first noticed locally in 2007 (it was discovered in southeastern Michigan in 2002, and the whole lower peninsula is now on the quarantine list). It takes 1 to 3 years for an infected ash to die; the tree tends to fall from its base, rather than drop limbs gradually, posing a liability risk if the tree is on public property.

An ash tree showing some kind of damage on a lower limb, at Waterfront Park

The Conservation District recommends removing or treating infected trees. The Preparedness Plan calls for residents to identify and tag all ash trees, including, ideally, those on private property. Mike Jones, an environmental outreach coordinator will help with inventory, and tags are available at BaySide Printing for 50 cents each. Funds for tree removal must be raised by the community; removal costs range from $600 to $1,200 per tree; countywide grant money may be available. Ken Holmes said he did not know of any ash trees on Village property but he thought there were 6 left in the Village. He mentioned that some birch trees are dying. Reg Manville said he was all in favor of controlling what we can control regarding invasive species. The District does not recommend that people chemically treat trees without professional help.

Scott Gest has redrafted the forbearance agreement between the Village and Elberta Land Holding Co.; he did not agree with some language added by Village attorney Joe Quandt. The agreement still states that the $10K* will be used toward the principal on the Village’s loan with ELHC, and the Village will make no other payments until the development begins to provide a tax revenue increase. Council can review the agreement ahead of the September meeting. *[The State of Michigan, which owned the property south of the Koch Brothers field (the former Ann Arbor Railroad property) including the deepwater port, gave the Village of Elberta right of first refusal on the port. The Village did not have the money to purchase the property when it went up for sale, and the Council at that time in effect sold their right of refusal on the port to ELHC for $10,000 when ELHC bought the property. ELHC later loaned the Village money for improvements to the Waterfront Park and Lifesaving Station.]

Gest said Fleis and VandenBrink have performed only one of three tasks contracted, and have billed $1,000 above their bid of $4,000. Nothing in the bill explains the overcharge. They have done calculations for the upsizing of the sewer but have not done a water reliability study or reviewed the engineering work for the development’s first phase. The Village is paying $1,000 a month to Fleis and still owes $3,000. If an agreement is reached on a different billing amount the Village will be reimbursed.

County commissioner Marcia Stobie said Bob Metzger was selected as county administrator, pending salary negotiations. The preliminary 2012 budget showed a $418K discrepancy. Cuts will be made in several departments, including the sheriff’s department ($40K cut) and the courts ($30K). The county will require higher employee health insurance contributions. Building department fees will increase about 10%. The MSU Extension contract was reupped; they will self-fund this year.

Jonathan Drury of Furnace Ave. discussed speeding on 168. He said he frequently sees vehicles going 60 mph past his house at all hours (the speed limit is 25 mph). One of his dogs was hit and injured. He worries about the safety of children and other pedestrians and bikers. Drury asked if the Village could put up more signage or perhaps a speedbump, and said citizens’ homemade signs seem only to egg speeders on. Reg said the Village will acquire the road next year and until then it’s a county matter.

The June minutes had not been posted to the Village website (at press time, June, July, and both August meeting minutes are now there) and Council feels the website lacks “pizzazz.” The  hiring of a new designer will be discussed at the September meeting.
Reg reviewed the Village treasurer’s report discussed at the July meeting. The report is correct and shows that in addition to the selling of the dockominums and the closing of the EDC fund,  the Village saw an excess of $21,474 in revenues over expenditures for 2010. Reg said he will soon present several ideas on how to save more money.

The July bills were approved. Receipts were $29,811.22; accounts payable expenses were $31,569.24; payroll was $8,468.60.

Ken Bonney said the trip-hazard portion of the sidewalk in front of the church has been replaced. Two derelict  trailers and an older house have been removed. Smitty’s dispatched 9 dead trees. Diane Jenks asked if the roadwork on Lincoln was finished. Ken Bonney said the middle of the road was not repaved, only the sides, because the sewer will need to be upgraded eventually and at that time the street will have to be torn up anyway. The work on Lincoln is called wedging and will shore up the edges of the road where it was crumbling.

BLUA received a BBB long-term credit rating from S&P.

Council approved the closure of Sheridan between 168 and Washington for the E2 Eclectic Elberta event on Labor Day Sunday, September 4. A water fountain in the Waterfront Park is not working, and the horn element in the playscape is broken. The Centennial Cookbook was discussed during the Park & Rec meeting; its release may be tied to the 10-year anniversary of Solstice Festival. Park & Rec would like the Lakeside Shakespeare company to return to the amphitheater. A membership drive is on the  P&R September meeting agenda.

Reg said that on Friday, August 12, he and Ross Thorsen saw two vehicles with big tires at the end of the two-track on the Sand Products property. They contacted the DNR, who said they would step up patrols. Fines of $1,000 will be issued to persons driving vehicles on the beach or dunes; violations should be reported to the RAP line at 800-292-7800. Reg said a meeting will be convened in the fall with the sheriff, the DNR, and Sand Products Corp. to tackle the problem.

An unregistered large party was reportedly held in the Waterfront Park. A $100 fee is normally charged to parties for electricity; no money was paid for this event. It was suggested that a sign be posted regarding the registration and fee requirement.

The Thorpe Dune Area is ours. “There were no hiccups down in Lansing,” Reg said referring to the transfer agreement. A grand opening celebration is in the works.

The completed Master Plan will be presented on Friday, Sept. 2, to the Planning Commission.

Jennifer Wilkins made a presentation on Mutt Mitts for Village parks. She was interrupted long before her three minutes were up. Reg Manville said that the dog poop problem had vastly improved since the ordinance was passed banning dogs in the Waterfront Park. Ken Holmes said dogs are still allowed in five of our parks, and that state law requires that all dogs be on a leash. Reg said he had recently been cursed at by some dog owners to whom he had pointed out the no-dogs sign. Someone said that Josh Mills said Frankfort spends $2,000 per year on Mutt Mitt stations and has seen an 80 percent improvement. Reg said he would like the Village to create a dedicated dog park. Wilkins resumed the floor and said she had found a deal for 5 Mutt Mitt stations with 160 bags each for a grand total of $270 (shipping included). Diane Jenks suggested placing one or two stations down at the beach as a trial run. Council unanimously approved the purchase of five stations.

Official meeting minutes are posted on the Village website.

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