Murphy sworn in, property transferred at Clare meeting

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

There weren’t any surprises at the special meeting of the Clare City Commission Monday evening.

New commissioner Caroline (Gus) Murphy was sworn in by Clare City Clerk Diane Lyon; Pat Humphrey was named Mayor again and Jean McConnell voted Mayor Pro Tem. Murphy was elected to a three-year term on the Commission at the November 5 election, besting incumbent write-in candidate Tom Koch by a 175-147 vote.

Mayor Pat Humphrey and Mayor Pro-Tem Jean McConnell were also re-elected by the board for another year.

The Commission also approved the final transfer of two parcels totaling 200 acres from Grant Township to the jurisdiction of the City. 120 acres still belong to the Clare Northern Group. Sixty of those acres, deeded to the City last month, will become the new “Industrial Park North” on Colonville Road with the help of a $2.68 million Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency Grant.

The grant, 60 percent of the cost of the project’s total cost, will be added to $1,787,240 in funds matched by the city and will pay for development and construction of a new water tower, lift station, roads, sewer and water infrastructure, a $4,787,240 total.

To pay for the City’s portion of the project, two revenue bonds and one general obligation bond totaling $1,410,926 are planned: $515,794.06 through the general fund; $335,017 through the city sewer fund; and $560,115 through the city water fund. Contributions from sewer and water funds of $400,000 and $350,000 respectively will pay the balance.

Funds for repayment of the bonds will come from personal and property tax revenues on the property, captured with the establishment of a LDFA (Local Development Financing Act), which captures the city portion of the taxes on the properties.
Seventeen of the 60 acres has already been spoken for by Consumer’s Energy, who will pay $170,000 for the property and is planning to build a new $4 million service facility in the park. Groundbreaking is planned early next year and completion of the facility early in 2015.

With that in mind, the City Commission voted unanimously Monday to name the road in the park “Consumers Energy Parkway.”
All that was left to incorporate the property into the City Monday evening was the approval of the jurisdictional transfer of the property by Grant Township, a move that came at their regular meeting Tuesday evening.

In another matter at the special meeting, the board voted to “postpone” a special assessment project to pay and curb a portion of Brookwood Drive and Briarwood Streets in Clare.

Following correspondence from Douglas A. Jacobson, attorney for one of the two property owners, Gary DeShano, declaring the value of the his property value would actually decline with the improvements, City Attorney Jaynie Hoerauf verified that the claim was true because the nature of the Brookwood facility located there does not allow increased revenue from rents.

In his agenda report, City Manager Ken Hibl said, “If we proceed with the proposed project with the currently-proposed assessment (all project costs to be borne by the two property owners), the City will be in great jeopardy of challenge.” He recommended that, because “the City is not presently in a fiscal position to assume the $85,000 proposed cost of the project, the Commission postpone the project.”

A November 18 hearing for the assessment roll was cancelled.

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