City approves Doherty tax exemption

May 23, 2019

By Pat Maurer

Clare City Intern Dallas Witbeck was honored with a Key to the City by Mayor Pat Humphrey Monday evening.

Following a PowerPoint presentation at Monday evening’s Clare City Commission meeting, the board voted 4-0 to approve a Commercial Facilities Exemption Certificate application for the Doherty Hotel in the center of downtown Clare.

The Commission approved establishing the new district, which corresponds with the Downtown Development District, at the May 6th board meeting, allowing the Doherty owners to apply for the 12-year, 50 percent tax abatement on the $5,200,856 renovation to the historic old hotel.

The exemption certificate will abate 50 percent of the taxes on the renovations for the 12-year period. It won’t affect the property taxes on the unimproved sections of the hotel.

The original 1924 building will be restored to its original appearance during the renovation with new enlarged windows and restored masonry on the building’s façade that echoes the way the building looked in the 20s.
“It is a certified historic rehabilitation,” said presenter Wayne Hoffman, Project Development Director of Spense Brothers, who also built the Clare Post Office years ago.

Hoffman said one-sixth of the Doherty property is scheduled for the improvements. 39 rooms on the second through fourth floors will be renovated into 29 rooms; 29 “boutique style rooms and three with kitchenettes for longer term residents. Also in the renovation plans is a complete update to the bar area and downstairs bathrooms. The total estimated cost of the project including design is $6,276,427.

The project renovations, which will last approximately six to seven months, is planned to begin this summer and be complete early next year, depending on federal, state and local approvals.

The City meeting was held in the conference room on the lower level of the Pere’ Marquette District Library in anticipation of a large audience attending.

Many were there with questions about the proposed five-year weed control program for Shamrock Lake, estimated to cost $30,000 annually with 50 percent of the cost ($15,000) paid by the City and the remaining amount by lakefront property owners in the assessment district. The cost per year for each of the property owners is $150.

Wayne Terpening, who lives on the Tobacco River just above Shamrock Lake, objected to the river property owners being included in the assessment roll for the lake treatment. “We are not part of the lake,” he said. “We have objected to being assessed for the treatment for years, even submitted a petition to the City objecting. We do not have riparian rights to the lake, only to the river.”

City Commissioner Bob Bonham said he agreed with Terpening’s objection, saying, “They should not have to pay for this if they don’t have riparian rights.”

The approval of the assessment roll for the weed treatment process was approved by the board with the option of deleting the river property owners pending a review by City Attorney Jaynie Hoerauf on the matter.
In another matter, City Manager Ken Hibl said the City was not selected for a Michigan Department of Transportation Category B Economic Development grant to complete the western section of John R Street.

“However we intend to complete the proposed street project without grant funding,” Hibl said. “The project includes replacement of the existing four inch water main piping with an eight inch line. GFA (Gourdie-Fraser Inc. of Traverse City), the City’s engineer of record has provided us an engineering agreement for services for our planned water main upgrade.” The total engineering services are $2,500, he added.

The Commission voted to approve the engineering agreement.
Other business at Monday’s meeting included:

*With one dissenting vote, that of Commissioner Karla Swanson, the board also approved submitting a grant to the United States Department of Agriculture for the purchase of a new police vehicle. If approved, the USDA will fund 55 percent of the cost of the $49,293 vehicle.

*The Commission voted unanimously to recognize Clare High School Senior Dallas Witbeck, who has served the city since 2017. Hibl noted her achievements in high school including that she recently placed second in graphics at the Business Professional Association’s National Competition in Anaheim California. “Her accomplishment merits the presentation of the Mayoral Key of Excellence,” he said.

*During his report to the board, Hibl noted that the Planning Commission will be considering the façade improvements to the Doherty, a site plan for Tobacco Ranch and a “possible Conditional Zoning request on June 12th. Hibl said the zoning request was for a potential purchaser of the ShopKo building on the south side of the City.

*The City also approved a Fireworks Permit for the Summer Music Festival on June 27th and approved the three-year reappointment of Margie Dill to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

*The Commission approved bills totaling $200,927.25.

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