Salted with Sharks

September Council Meeting Report: Signs

In Green Elbertians, Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Politics on October 6, 2011 at 9:29 pm

DIANE JENKS ASKED that audio recordings be made of all future council meetings. Linda Manville asked Village treasurer Laura Manville to find out the renewal date for the Village employees’ health care package and where we stand vis à vis the new state health care benefit bill for municipal employees, which may mandate a 20% employee contribution. Linda asked that the new practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance be reflected on the agenda.

Carolee Ness thanked Council for the no parking signs and gold paint on Acre and M-22. “Our parking problem is the product of having a good diner,” said Reg. No-parking signs have since been installed by the post office too.

Linda gave the bills report: “For those of you who come regularly, this figure is going to sound astounding. But our receipts for the month of August were $1,051,683.23…. Of that figure, $1,024,662.82 was from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust and has to do with the dune property that we’ve taken over.” The money (a grant) was transferred into our account and paid out again. This transaction aside, receipts for August were $37,020.40; expenses were $9,650.89 (payroll) and $43,961.29 (accounts payable).

DPW Ken Bonney said the smashed drinking fountain has been fixed. Jennifer Wilkins will paint the propellers in the Marina Park, and she and Art Melendez will design signs for Village parks. Ken Holmes said the family who donated the Marina Park property should be acknowledged on that sign.

Ken Holmes said BLUA has received no applications from licensed workers for the open position and so will expand the advertising area.

Linda Manville, Park and Rec liaison, gave her report. Park and Rec officer elections will likely be held in October. The Park and Rec post office box was closed by the Village treasurer because some correspondence from the state was late in arriving to the Village Office. Park and Rec was not notified of the box closure. At the September P&R meeting, Reg Manville asked about some farmers market vendor fees and a Solstice vendor fee that was paid in cash to the P&R secretary and then submitted to the office. Commission members had not been aware of these problems, Linda said, because all financial duties had been the responsibility of the Village Office since July 1. “Prior to the September Park and Rec meeting I met with the Village president at his request.… I said during our meeting that I had not been advised of any of the problems regarding the financial records, and that I didn’t expect to, since the financial duties had been transferred over to the Village, as mandated by the state. And while I did assist in the preparation of Park and Rec’s material for the annual Village audit, I did that strictly on a volunteer basis…. The role and responsibilities of Park and Rec liaison have historically been to report to Council on the activities and plans of the group. At no time in my previous position as liaison did I participate in the financial activities of the commission, nor have I found any evidence of previous liaisons having direct involvement with the financial responsiblities of Park and Rec,” Linda said. During the president’s report Reg Manville said Park and Rec will no longer have a separate PO box and that all mail will go to the Village Office where it will be opened by the Village Clerk. Correspondence will then be distributed to Park and Rec. “I will not lead this village down the path to a situation where in the spring our audit is going to fail because of our books,” Reg said.

Bill Soper said the Marina Park Porta-Johns had been vandalized to the point of unusability. Ken Holmes said the facilities were foul at a recent Sunday church gathering in the park and he didn’t think the choice of the Williams service was an improvement. “I’m very ashamed that we had 60 people down there and I had to go clean the toilet,” Ken said. According to the contract, the Village must foot the bill for vandalism and any repairs. Laura Manville will look into when the Williams contract is up. “I know that Ernie [the previous Porta-John servicer] never charged us for any repairs, and never charged us for extra cleanings either, but we did have a lot of complaints.” The Village did not have a contract with Ernie.

Ross Thorsen said the monthly beach cleanups have ended for the year. Ken Bonney will leave the boardwalk leading to the pier out until just before it starts to snow.

Reg Manville had met with Scott Gest, Kris Mills, Carl Noffsinger (zoning administrator), and Ken Bonney about the “whole can of worms that we had down at the dockominiums that has reared its head again.” The back access to Betsie Bay Marina via the two-track across the Mitchell property or from Frankfort Avenue, where there’s a piece of state property, is disputed. Carl Noffsinger will advise on the Village’s legal stake in the matter, which has already been contested in court once. “I’d like to get this in writing and get it behind us,” Reg said.

Reg has accepted the varsity basketball job at Frankfort–Elberta High School, and will petition Council to reschedule certain meetings that conflict with games for both himself and Matt Stapleton.

Council passed a resolution authorizing Reg to sign a contract defining the scope of work for a management plan for the new Elberta Dunes Park. The management plan process will take three months and will include a public forum. Chris Sullivan of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy said the GTRLC wants a detailed description of how the property will be maintained. A dedication event will be held (see Calendar) and the GTRLC is buying us a new sign.


Council voted to release the draft master plan for the 63-day public review period after hearing a presentation by Sarah Lucas of NMCoG.

A contingent from Frankfort made a detailed proposal for an Elberta dog park. If implemented Elberta’s would be the only dog park north of Manistee and might draw more dog-owning vacationers in addition to people from neighboring communities. Ken Holmes recommended that residents surrounding the park be canvassed to gauge their response. Reg Manville said the EPA had already given the all-clear regarding potential water supply hazards from dog waste, and there are no known restrictions on the use of the park. Council and the Dog Parkers discussed funding two basketball courts in the Waterfront Park; tournaments there could be held for further fundraising.

Council examined Frankfort’s lawn ordinance in preparation for adopting a similar one here. Frankfort’s requires all growth that isn’t landscaping, trees, shrubs, or gardens to be kept to 8 inches or under. “It’s pretty vague,” said Reg. “One man’s weed is another woman’s flower. You can really back yourself into a fine line here.” Ken Holmes said, “One place on Washington Avenue is in terrible shape with all the weeds and stuff and people wonder what’s going on there…. I guess they figure they live in the forest and they’re just going to let it grow. But that’s not the way Elberta’s ever been.” Linda Manville asked that the area between the sidewalks and the street, which some residents do not mow, be addressed in the ordinance. The subject was tabled so the wording could be revised ahead of the October meeting. During public comment, Emily Votruba of Washington Avenue raised questions about the ordinance: would grass be required? would native plantings be allowed? how would the ordinance be enforced? Laura Manville said the Village would mow properties deemed in violation, charging an hourly rate and assessing that fee as part of the owner’s tax obligation if the owner failed to pay. Emily asked that there be public review of the ordinance ahead of a vote. Diane Jenks said there would be a public forum at the October council meeting. Dan Kelly of Crystal Lake commented that the increase in suburban-style lawns in his area was problematic aesthetically and environmentally. At press time the proposed wording was not yet available.

Council and Scott Gest agreed to the wording on the forbearance agreement between the Village and the Elberta Landholding Company. Gest said the interest rate on the Village’s loan with ELHC, which won’t come due until the property development begins to realize increased tax revenue, is under prime.

During public comment county commissioner Marcia Stobie mentioned that other area meetings list her report on the agenda. “I never know when to give my report [here].” The contract for the new county administrator is not yet final. The county budget was approved and posted for review; about  $385K was cut. A rollback of the Headlee amendment is being considered for the February ballot. “That’s music to my ears,” said Laura Manville. Among other unacceptable budget constraints, Marcia said, the sheriff’s department for the second year was unable to replace any vehicles. Speaking as a member of the planning commission she asked dog park organizers to consider who will maintain the park, what sort or surfacing and landscaping to use, and whether nonresident park users will be asked to make contributions.—Emily Votruba 

Official meeting minutes are posted on the Village website.

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