-Thad Beard ‘This is a new one’
By BETH ALTENA
Rockford City Council approved sending pre-treated tannery site groundwater to the ParcSide Clean Water Plant during their regular meeting on June 11 and moved forward regarding the City and Krause Memorial Library expansion. During that meeting they took other important steps regarding the future of downtown Rockford.
There were eleven people in attendance at the Monday meeting with a resident of 13 Mile Road standing up for public comments. She asked if council had considered the implications of a hotel (possibly proposed for Main Street) operating 24/7 in downtown Rockford.
Planning Commissioner and resident Cliff Hill also spoke, complimenting the city on the cemetery and how well-maintained it is. Linda Southwick, Executive Director of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce, thanked the city for how beautiful it looks, with all the flower pots, the new parking lot and hoped for a Start of Summer without rain.
Mayor Cheryl Scales introduced a series of Mayoral Proclamations, reappointing Tom Sturr, Dave Rasmusen and Jon Miner for three-year terms on the Planning Commission; reappointing Aaron Zania for a for year term on the Downtown Development Authority; appointing William VanEck to a one-year term on the Rockford Housing Commission and reappointing Laura Weld and Mary Blakeslee for three-year terms on the Krause Memorial Board.
The Consent Agenda was unanimously approved, approving the minutes of a May 6 and May 29 work session and the May 20 Special meeting minutes.
Scales opened a Public Hearing for the Single Lot Assessment roll. City Manager Thad Beard said the assessment puts a lien on properties with outstanding balances with the city. He noted each of these, this time, were overdue water bills. If not paid by the end of the week, a lien for that amount will be attatched to the property. He said typically when the notices of the lien are sent out, the property owner will pay the outstanding balance. “Otherwise they are paid at the time of sale.” At this time there were just four residents with these outstanding balances.
Tammy Bergstrom asked if the residents are aware and are not contesting the bill. Finance Director Linda Lehman said the residents are aware and notices have been sent to each of them. Beard said a lot of them, typically, are people who have moved away and never received the notice. He said at this point, multiple notices have been sent.
Councilman Ed Ross asked if the notices go to the homeowner or a renter if the property is renter occupied. Lehman stated, “Once they become delinquent, the owner is notified because they become liable.”
Under new business, the council talked about the property known as the Arnie’s parking lot which required approving a Michigan Department of Transportation License Agreement. He called the lot “the old railroad property” and said that the city must maintain insurance on the lot, although they do not own the lot. MDOT and Wolverine own the property. Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Terry Konkle asked if the city owns any part of the lot and was told no.
Next up on the agenda was what Beard called “something new.” Council considered and approved adoption of a local pavement warranty program. The program is being initiated by the Michigan Department of Transportation. Beard said, “It is a means by which MDOT can guarantee the life and condition of the roads which they assist to build and finance.” He said the warranty is required for any road project in excess of $2 million dollars.
“We rarely have street projects in excess of two million, but we very well may.” He noted the dollar amount does not include the cost of utilities underground, just the pavement. He said the adoption is a two part process and council must vote to adopt the resolution and then again to implement it. He said the requirements of the warranty are very well defined. The contractor providing the work cannot opt out but the city could if they show just cause.
Ed Ross asked if the warranty covers asphalt or concrete and was told both. Beard said the closest project is Ten Mile Road, which is not maintained by the city of Rockford.
Mayor Scales said the state has been requiring warranties for years and it is not excessive. Councilwoman Tammy Bergstrom asked who will be responsible for inspecting projects and Beard said that would have to be determined and included.
Scales asked if they will know how to implement the new program. “It’s always a little scary when it’s state-mandated and costs money.” Council unanimously voted to approve and implement the new program.
Council then approved purchase of a trench box which protects workers underground from cave-ins. Department of Public Services Director Jamie Davies said, “It is OSHA required to keep walls from collapsing. Davies said the city currently has a box from the same company that will be an add-on so they can dig deeper. He said some of the city’s water mains are deeper than six feet. He said there is a sanitary sewer that is twelve feet deep.
Recycling receptacles were discussed next. “We have three currently,” Beard said. Adding three more will give the city six, less than the Sustainability Committees goal of ten. “I will be honored to make that motion,” said Councilman Jeff Lewis.
Council considered amendments to the yearly budget. “Linda had the enormous task of going over this the last couple of months,” Beard said. Council approved those changes unanimously.
Boards and Commissions reports were next. Planning Commission did meet and considered the site plan for Our Lady of Consolation second phase. “Previously they approved the new rectory that is underway. The site plan was approved, including a storm garden with contingencies by the fire department. The plan was approved by the engineer. “This was a difficult site for our new requirements, so it is a good test,” Beard said. The site will meet the new stormwater ordinance. A current drive-through will be cut and allow for a new storm garden that complies with new ordinances (where the old red barn used to be on the corner of 11 Mile and Northland Drive).
The Downtown Development Authority, Economic Development Corportation, Rockford Area Community Endowment and the Board of Zoning Appeals all did not meet.
Mayor Scales said the Sustainability Committee met and worked with the Chamber of Commerce about Start of Summer. The committee brought in twelve recycle bins rented from Kent County for the event.
Council then talked about plans for the new library complex (story in last week’s paper) and ended with Council Comments.
Lewis said the city is beautiful. Tammy Bergstrom said working with the Chamber is a good way to get the word out about recycle bins. Ed Ross said an exciting week was coming up. He said to the resident who asked about the hotel that he is on the board and will be happy to help her with any concerns. “The Northland Pontiac site was purchased to be developed and this is the proposal before us.”
Konkle brought up the Reading Rocks festival and concerns about the weather for that event, which turned out to be valid. He called it a nice festival for the kids. Mayor Scales said everyone else had covered her ideas already, except one she forgot about. Linda, from the Chamber, also stated that the improvements and sod at Garden Club Park are great and kids were already rolling around on it.