By Pat Maurer
It may be back to the drawing board for Clare City’s hopes to apply for an Economic Development Grant to help fund possible infrastructure work and a new water tower on the north side of Clare.
At their meeting Tuesday evening the Grant Township Board voted not to be co-signers on the grant application, part of the process required by the EDA to make the city eligible for approximately $2.2 million of an estimated $4.4 million project.
Clare City is in the process of applying for the EDA grant and has several steps required, including the partnership with the Township, before that happens.
Grant Supervisor Dan Dysinger said, “I asked our attorney to look at this [request from the city] and he recommended that the township should pass on this.” He added “He said he felt there wasn’t enough information.” He said since the property would be annexed to the city that he didn’t understand why the township was required to be a co-signer.
Board members were concerned that their decision would stop the process to apply for the grant and possibly put the project at risk.
Clare City Manager Ken Hibl was at the township meeting. He said, “I agree with you that the requirement [to have Grant Township as a co-signer] didn’t make sense.” He asked for a letter from Dysinger stating that the township board had voted not to be a co-signer. “We will go back to them and see what to do now,” he said. “I don’t believe this is an automatic grant killer. I believe the EDA legal department doesn’t understand our Urban Cooperation Agreement.”
If the process can continue and the City receives the grant, and if the City Commission agrees to go ahead with the project, it would fund improvements to develop a 60-acre Industrial Park on Colonville Road on the north side of Clare.
At the City meeting August 5, Hibl said that the Commission had approved seeking a grant from the EDA three months ago to fund a new water tower. He said, “We have been talking about an expansion for eight years, since 2005. This grant would put us in a position to develop infrastructure there.” He continued, “Because we are a ‘depressed area’, the EDA would pay 60 percent of the cost.
Hibl said two future developers for the property, on the 60 acres along Colonville Road, have pledged $4 million towards the project, and that the improvements there would bring in new taxpayers and users for the city services there. He added that the developers or property owners cannot profit from infrastructure improvements there, but that those property values would have to be based on present appraisals.
Under the UCA, property owners would request annexation to the city and both the city and township would approve the request. Hibl said at the City meeting, that the property owner, the Northern Group has said they would give the City 60 acres of the 200 that they own there. Another EDA requirement is that the City must own the property.
Other business at the Grant Township meeting Tuesday included:
*A report from Dysinger that all of the road projects for this year have been completed. Trustee Marge Bell reported that she has heard complaints about the damage to the fog-sealed roads by horses. “They are tearing them up already,” she said.
*County Commissioner Leonard Strouse reported on his concerns with the ongoing budgeting process. “Even with cuts, we are still $350,000 in the red,” he said. “It isn’t looking good; it is tough sledding on the county level.”
*Dysinger reminded everyone that a tire recycling will be held at the Grant Township Hall September 21st from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and that the Public Forum on a possible millage for road maintenance will be held September 23 at 7 p.m.
*The board approved the payment of bills totaling $23,358.80.