Council Grants Extension on Purchase of South Monroe Street Property

 10/07/2016 - 04:20
Damien Farrell, of High Meadows Development LLC requests a 75 day extension to purchase the property on Monroe Street.

The first October Saline City Council meeting was shorter than usual. Much of the discussion consisted of announcements about recent and coming events in October.

So perhaps it would be best to list the busy October calendar of events first.

  • October 1: The fall Cleanup Day was held this year at the DPW building at 1234 Tefft Court. About 420 vehicles dropped off “an amazing variety of stuff,” according to Mayor Pro Tem Rhoads.
  • October 2: The annual Harvest Time at Rentschler Farm drew over 300 visitors. They enjoyed a pleasant day learning about Saline’s agricultural past.
  • October 8: The Saline Rotary is sponsoring Oakwood Cemetery Enactment Tours from 3:00 to 7:30 p.m. Visitors will be led to 11 graves where actors in nineteenth century attire will serve as speakers for the dead.
  • October 9: At 2:00 p.m. a sign will be dedicated at Oakwood Cemetery describing the life of city founder Orange Risdon and the history of the cemetery. The sign will be at the site where Risdon’s house once stood.
  • October 14: About 22 students visiting from sister city Lindenberg, Germany will be welcomed at Saline City Hall at 10:30 a.m. Citizens are encouraged to help welcome the students and show their support of the sister city program.
  • October 15: At 2:00 p.m. Members of the Saline-Brecon Friendship Guild will dedicate a bench at Brecon Park commemorating a 50-year relationship with sister city Brecon, Wales.
  • October 15: At around 8:30 p.m. the city of Saline is sponsoring a fireworks display to celebrate the city’s 150th birthday. The event will be held at Crabtree Field in back of Liberty School. Viewers are encouraged to come at 6:00 to participate in a family-friendly tailgating party.
  • October 16: From 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The 150th Task Force is presenting an historic homes tour. Participants will be able to tour six homes from 94 to 157 years old and learn about the people who once lived there.
  • October 16: At 2:00 p.m. the Library-Brecon Trail will be officially renamed the Leslee Niethammer Library Memorial Trail. The change is to honor the late beloved librarian Leslee Niethammer who passed away last spring.
  • October 20: At 6:00 p.m. the 2016 Business Enterprise Award Winners will be honored with a dinner at Stonebridge Golf Club. Honorees include: The Bank of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw Glass and Debbie Locke-Daniel.
  • October 22: Between 9:00 a.m. and 1 p.m. the public is invited to tour the newly refurbished Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) at 247 Monroe Street.  
  • October 24: The 2016 Green Thumb Award winners will be honored at the City Council meeting starting at 7:30 in City Hall. Winners include: Paula Allison and Barry England on E. Henry Street, Michael and Jutamaus Fuerstnau on W. McKay and the Rentschler Farm Museum.

Girbach Reiterates Concern

The Council Meeting began with council members removing two items from the consent agenda for discussion, the minutes of the previous meeting and bill payments. Linda TerHaar asked that the minutes be amended to note that Mayor Marl had left the meeting early after which it was led by Mayor Pro Tem Rhoads.

Council member Dean Girbach wanted to take the opportunity to again express his displeasure with a $1,500 loan to the Saline Community Addiction Prevention Task Force as startup money. He called for a vote on the previously approved loan to register his “no.”

A letter from a utilities customer asking for the waiver of a late payment penalty was discussed. Action was left to the discretion of the city clerk.

Council Grants Extension

Damian Farrell of High Meadows Development, LLC, asked for a 75-day extension on finalizing the purchase of city-owned land at 207 Monroe Street. He is planning a 30-unit condominium development for the parcel.

“It’s been a struggle putting together the financing for the project,” Farrell said. “We’re continuing to work on all the other aspects of the development agreement.”

“When we started the year, estimates for the site costs were right around $480,000. Those have doubled since then, so we’re facing labor and material costs that are rising fairly dramatically. The private equity investors and the banks we’ve been talking to are all concerned . . . I’ve been asked to get all my ducks in a row.”

Farrell said that there would be no changes in the approved plan and he was optimistic that the funding would come through. He said that he could start work when the deal is closed, even though it would likely be in winter.

Marl praised the project, saying that it would “help to diversify and enhance our housing stock.” Council member Jack Ceo expressed his support, noting that the new demands on the developer were out of his control.

Council approved the extension unanimously.

More Money Paid On WWTP Project

The twelfth payment on the WWTP, amounting to $47, 881 was approved. Council asked City Engineer Gary Roubal if the project was close to completion.

“I think they’re just about 100 percent finished now,” Roubal said.

There are just some small things to finalize now as the contractor goes through a punch list. Roubal said all work should be completed within a month.

Council member TerHaar asked for an update on the city’s RFP (request for proposals) for an odor study at the WWTP.

“We seem to have some interest in it by a number of firms,” Roubal said. “We expect to get three, four maybe, RFPs by October 13.”

DPW Buys Truck

The Department of Public Works (DPW) had previously budgeted $60,000 for a used bucket truck. The truck would be used for banner installation, Christmas decorations, repairs on streetlights and other applications.

DPW located a suitable truck at I-80 Equipment in Colona, Illinois for $58,100. It is a 2011 Ford F-550 4x2 with an ETI ETC37IH bucket (42’ working height) including a 2-year 200,000-mile engine warranty.

The purchase, which is about $2,000 under budget, was approved unanimously.

Council Seems to Support Zippy Car Wash

Council continued its discussion of the proposal from Corey and Michelle Weaver to build a Zippy’s Auto Wash at the Sauk Trail Business Park on US 12. All council members except the mayor seemed to be in agreement or even enthusiastic about the project.

Girbach brought up the issue of the entrance road and cul-de-sac platted south of the business park. It would be unnecessary now that the parcel has been repurposed from industrial to commercial.

City Manager Todd Campbell said that the land could be carved out or added to the existing lots. He said staff will look into the issue and report back to Council.

“I’ve had some ambivalence about this proposal from the very beginning,” said Marl to the Weavers. “But the majority has spoken and we look forward to working with you.”

Emagine Wants Tax Break

Representatives from Emagine Entertainment have asked the city for a tax break on the theater that they are in the process of creating in the former Country Market building. Council and city staff will attempt to comply.

19 Students on Youth Council

During the discussion portion of the meeting in which the upcoming events were announced, a few other issues were noted.

Council member Heidi McClelland announced that the Saline Youth Council would consist of 19 students this year, compared with just 10 students last year. She introduced one of the leaders, Austin Bellinger, a senior at Saline High School.

“We can provide youth advocacy and we hope you guys will feel comfortable coming to us and asking our opinion,” Bellinger said.

Art Projects

TerHaar spoke of a recent meeting of the Arts and Culture Committee. They have a few projects they are initiating.

The committee will be supporting the Parks and Recreation Departments application to participate in the Detroit Institute of Arts Inside-Out project. They will also begin a local project of bringing art out to the people that will be called “Art Around Saline.”

Mayor Marl had approached the committee about a project to showcase local artists in a rotating exhibit at City Hall. They agreed to work on this initiative.

Ethics Pledge

Marl said that he, together with Rhoads and TerHaar, have been working on an ethics pledge for city officials. This should be a discussion item at the next council meeting.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held at 7:30 on October 17 and it promises to be a busy one.

Bob Conradi's picture
Bob Conradi Is a retired pharmaceutical scientist who has redefined himself as a photographer and journalist. He has lived in Michigan for 36 years and in the Saline area for 10. He enjoys researching and learning about new ideas. Reach him at bobcphotography@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RobertConradi.