City Council Report: Extensions for Hotel, North Maple Condos; Concern as Fairdene Development Stalls

 06/06/2017 - 01:53

Here’s a quick summary of the action at Monday’s Saline City Council meetings. Council’s work session began at 6:45 p.m. The regular meeting began at 7:30 p.m. and concluded at about 9:45 p.m.

Council Approves 90-Day Extension for Hotel Land Sale Agreement

Saline City Council voted 6-1 to extend for 90 days its purchase agreement with Sauk Trail Ct. Properties, LLC, the company formed by Jim Junga to buy city-owned property for the proposed Best Western Hotel and his new Ace Hardware store. Councillor Dean Girbach voted no. Developer Mark Kuykendall told council that investment slowed down due to concerns the city might not approve a third floor for the hotel. But since gaining approval, investors have joined on. Kuykendall estimated the remaining funding would be lined up in the next 60 days and that ground will be broken this fall. He expects the hotel to open in the late summer or early fall of 2018.

Leather Bucket Alley Stairs for Downtown Apartments

John Dunn, who bought the Mangiamo Italian Grill building, appeared before city council with his builder and an architect seeking informal approval for his plan to put outdoor stairs on the back of his building. The stairs would encroach upon Leather Bucket Alley, the city owned public space sometimes used by neighboring restaurants. Dunn, who is leasing the bottom floor to Smokehouse 52 restaurant, plans eight “high end” apartments on the second and third floor of the building. The building needs outdoor stairs because adding indoor stairs would hurt the restaurant space. Additionally, Dunn is planning to install an elevator he believes is required to attain the prices he wants. Although several council members expressed concern about using public space and the aesthetics, Mayor Marl announced that Dunn seemed to have the support of council. No official vote was taken.

Council Approves 90-Day Extension for 600 Maple Road Development

Saline City Council voted 7-0 to extend the purchase agreement with North Maple LLC, which plans to build a condo development on North Maple Road. Mayor Brian Marl said there were delays, in part, because the developers were the first to use the city’s planned unit development ordinance. City Manager Todd Campbell said the developer turned the site plan to the city for final approval Monday.

Council Concerned as Fairdene Development Halts

The Fairdene development on South Monroe Street has come to a halt. According to City Manager Todd Campbell, the company which made the modular units used in the development has gone out of business after 50 years. The developer, Damien Farrell, is working to find a new vendor.

Councillor Girbach said he was concerned about old house which remains standing on the property. He said it could become an eyesore or a public safety hazard.

Balanced Budget Approved

City Council approved the budget for the 2018 fiscal year. It calls for no tax increases and a $5,000 budget surplus, according to Treasurer Mickie Jo Bennett. There may be additional revenues yet to come due to land sales, she said. The general operating millage is 14.1174 mills. There are millages for streets (.1199 mills and .4007 mills) and refuse collection (1.642 mills). The total city millage level of 16.28 mills is unchanged from 2016-17.

Street Party OK’d

City council approved Elena and David Hesse’s request to close a portion of Woodland Drive West for their daughter’s graduation party June 19. Council voted 6-1 to approve the request. Councillor Christen Mitchell voted no. The public allows block parties to encourage neighbors to socialize. The Hesses’ pulled their request to use a tent in the street after hearing that both the Saline Police Chief and Saline Fire Chief feared the tent could be an obstacle in the case of an emergency.

Council Approves Cemetery Tour

Council voted 7-0 to approve use of Oakwood Cemetery for a walking tour Sept. 30. The event, organized by Saline Rotary Club, was considered a success last year. Council voted to deny the request to waive any associated fees.

Council Spends $2,000 After Purchase Mistake

Several council members had harsh words for city staff after the wrong hand railings were purchased for the new fence on North Ann Arbor Street. Council, however, voted 5-2 to spend $2,136 to buy the correct hand railings located at the steps. Mayor Marl and Councillor Girbach voted no.

$20,000 Well Improvement Authorized

Council voted 7-0 to approve a $19,688 bid from Goyette Mechanical to repair the transmission line from one of the city’s drinking wells.

Police Advisory Board Workgroup Formed

Council voted 6-0 (Mayor Marl left the council chambers momentarily) to establish a work group to explore the creation of a Police Advisory Board. In his memo to council, Mayor Marl said the missions of the board vary considerably, ranging from handling citizen complaints, to vetting policies, to community engagement and budget reviewing. The group includes Councillor Jack Ceo (former Saline Deputy Police Chief), Police Chief Larry Hrinik, Detective Mike King, Saline resident and Ann Arbor Police Officer Katie Nucci, Mayor Marl, Manager Campbell and community volunteer Norma Smith.

Councillor Janet Dillon said she would have liked to have seen more diversity on the group, which was heavy with law enforcement.

Brecon Items Move to Library

Council unanimously approved a request to borrow items from the city hall Brecon Display Case. The items will be on display at the Saline District Library from June 5 to July 17 to commemorate the city’s friendship with its sister city, Brecon, Wales. That friendship spawned the Saline Celtic Festival

Wastewater Treatment Plant Update

Water plant superintendent Bob Scull said the city received three phone calls from people who complained about the odor of the wastewater treatment plant last week. He noted that sludge haulers were at the plant later than usual Friday before hauling the sludge away.

Severance Pay

Several members of council would like to change a policy that gives non-union city staff up to six months of severance pay when they leave. According to Campbell, it’s too late in the budget process to change the policy for this year, as the new contracts take affect this month. Mayor Marl said he’s still in favor of reducing the severance packages and asked council members to consider the issue. It could come before council in January.

Deep Blue Sea for the Rec Center

Council unanimously approved the color “deep blue sea” for the metal branding around the Rec Center roof. It was picked first by the Rec Center Staff. A Rec Center member who is an interior decorator also recommended the color to Parks and Recreation Director Carla Scruggs.

 

Sidewalk Update

Bid proposals are due June 23 for a professional services contract overseeing sidewalk construction projects in the city. DPW Director Jeff Fordice said that new surveys were conducted during the first round of sidewalk improvements. The more serious sidewalk issues remain. Whoever wins the contract will determine if the unresolved issues are the responsibility of the city or the private property owner and then devise a construction plan.

City Welcomes Code Enforcement Officer

Saline area resident Gary Scheske was welcomed as the city’s new code enforcement officer. He began the job two weeks ago and is learning fast, according to Saline City Superintendent Gary Roubal.

Parks Meeting

The next Parks Commission meeting will be held at Peoples Park at 6 p.m., June 20 before moving to the city hall chamber. Neighbors and little league baseball parents are invited to join the walk of the park to talk about the proposed parking lot at the park. Neighbors don’t want to lose green space. But parents of little league baseball players don’t want to park on Monroe Street.

Mill Pond Park Pandemonium

Parks and Rec Director Carla Scruggs said 700-800 people attended the Movie in the Park event Friday. The Muttstadon Dog Challenge drew about 20 dogs and their owners on Saturday.

Computers for City Council

City council spent about 30 minutes in the work session discussing the move to laptop computers/electric devices with Technology Director Chris Shonk. Currently city staff print Saline City Council agenda packets and police drop them at the homes of council members. With the exception of Council member Jack Ceo, the council members all expressed support for moving to paperless agendas for efficiency and to save staff time. After discussing the issue with Shonk, council appears to be leaning toward using Microsoft Surface Pro laptop/tablets.

Work Session on Annexation

Saline City Council will meet for a work session at 6 p.m. July 3 to discuss a request by a developer to annex Saline Township property into the city.

 

Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is owner of The Saline Post. Email him at tran@thesalinepost.com or call him at 734-272-6294

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