A new Save-A-Lot store, update on St. Marys Cement, internet innovation, medical marijuana concerns, road projects, parks improvements and much more were discussed at this year’s Charlevoix County Elected Leader Summit on Monday Feb. 6 at the Boyne Area Senior Center.
Representatives of the cities, townships and county groups from throughout Charlevoix County each gave an overview of projects their municipalities have completed and are planning. Following are the highlights of that meeting:
City of East Jordan
Officials from East Jordan mentioned their nearly $6 million wastewater treatment plant they will be breaking ground on in April. Nearly $5 million of that cost is being paid for by grants. A master plan is in the works for the old EJ property, which has housed the East Jordan Iron Works, which is moving its foundry to a new location.
Boyne City officials gave an overview of their projects, the big ones on the list being the city facilities construction, out of 22 major projects the city has been working on over the last year, the city has completed 20 of them. The issue of medical marijuana shops came up, with county and city officials mentioning concerns about that issue. Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said a lawyer, who is calling all municipalities in Northern Michigan, contacted him recently to ask if the city has legislation regarding medical marijuana shops. Cain warned the other elected leaders to be careful what they told this lawyer should he call them.
City of Charlevoix
Charlevoix rebuilt nine blocks of street last year, and will be working on several more this year. The city also finished a wastewater treatment upgrade.
Charlevoix City officials are working to ensure their projects utilize materials and processes which are environmentally friendly.
Charlevoix County lowered taxes for three of the last four years and is running with a record low operating millage. Also, numerous pieces of county road have been improve or reconstructed.
The county’s fiber optic project continues, with cable having been extended to the Charlevoix County Road Commission. The opportunity for townships to have a cost-effective chance to tie into the fiber optic lines coming in will be available in the future. This would allow townships to do many things, including to transmit election results over a secure internet line.
The Charlevoix County Road Commission manager said the Charlevoix County Road Millage raised $3.8 million last year to be used on Korthase, Deer Lake, and Ellsworth roads.
10 of the 15 municipalities in Charlevoix County had road projects that totaled $2.4 million last year.
Michigan Townships Assoc.
The district representative for Charlevoix-Cheboygan-Emmet MTA gave officials a rundown on some upcoming conferences, which will include information on medical marijuana and sign ordinances among other topics. The MTA, according to its website, represents 1,240 local units of government that govern over 96 percent of Michigan’s land area, in which over 58 percent of Michigan’s property values are located.
“The Michigan Townships Association is a voluntary membership association for Michigan’s 1,240 townships,” they state. “We are not a governmental entity, but we are a 501(c)4 not-for-profit corporation. The services we provide to township boards is to speak on their behalf to state and federal lawmakers and regulators; to answer their questions on statutory requirements and provide solutions to issues they face; and we offer a wide variety of education programs to build knowledge and skills related to the core competencies required of a township official.”
St. James Township
St. James Township officials, who represent the north end of Beaver Island, said they have a new board of trustees that is working on a new master plan. They are also focusing on good governance, especially in light of the major scandal involving its water fees and apparent missing funds which prompted an investigation and a forensic audit in recent years.
Norwood’s representative discussed his township’s 10-year road millage, passed several years ago, which collects less than $45,000 annually. So, township officials went to the county for an advance to fix some roads. However, they discovered this was not allowable by law—until Michigan legislators changed the law last year. Norwood Township is now encouraging dialogue with the county in hopes of getting a loan to work on some road projects in the township.
Norwood is also looking at possibly working with wireless internet providers to get better service out there. However, the laws are so complicated regarding telecommunications, Norwood’s rep encouraged the townships to get together and hold an informative meeting on this issue.
Chandler Township is approximately 75 percent state-owned.
Chandler voters approved a millage last year to help fund EMS services last year. Chandler is so sparsely populated it does not raise much in taxes, therefore has difficulty trying to fund larger projects like roadwork.
In 2016, Bay Township launched a new website and has begun putting out a township newsletter. Bay Township also receive two parks and recreation grants totaling over $12,000 from the Charlevoix County Parks and Rec Millage. That money was used to install and extend docks. Bay is also looking into ground penetrating radar to locate unmarked grave sites and reopening a cemetery which has been closed for years.
Last year, Melrose did a streetscape in downtown Walloon Lake. There have been many changes with restaurant and hotel businesses, and the township is currently in the process of expanding its sewer system. Roadwork projects were also completed last year, which cost the township nearly $700,00. The township also approved a quarter-mil EMS millage to help pay for emergency services.
Evangeline Township is the first township with a completed section of the Boyne City to Charlevoix non-motorized trail. The township also received $10,000 in county parks and rec funds to help pay for park improvements. The township’s road millage has been renewed, and it plans to spend nearly $400,000 on road projects this year.
Boyne Valley Township
Boyne Valley Township improved basketball courts and made other improvements with county parks and rec moneys. The township has also completed its master plan and zoning ordinance after years of work. Boyne Valley is also working to get a trail built between it and Boyne City. The township has been awarded a grant to acquire property which would extend to the falls but another party has indicated interest in the property, so the matter is still in question.
Last fall, the township completed a water line into Mt. McSauba, which has enhanced the snow-making capability at the mountain. The township is currently working on a contract for providing fire protection to for the City of Charlevoix. Charlevoix Township has a robust fire department, and provides protection for several other municipalities.
This spring, Charlevoix Township will begin work on Waller Road. The 1.2-mile resurfacing project is expected to cost $344,000.
Last fall, a new, small boat launch was created near St. Marys Cement right on Lake Michigan.
The major St. Marys Cement upgrade project is approximately halfway done. Originally estimated to cost $130 million, the project—according to Charlevoix Township officials—has already reached $150 million in costs. The project is currently employing an additional 130 to 140 people.
Between March and August of next year, there will be 350 contractors working on the project.
The sewer project out at Sommerset Pointe continues. The township also has a new website.
Wilson has collaborated with East Jordan to create the Jordan Valley EMS Authority. They have their first new ambulance coming.
The township is also working to develop a distributed antenna system for internet service. They will perform a beta test this summer to see how well the system works.
Officials said, if it works well, it could revolutionize internet service for rural areas throughout Charlevoix County. The other big news out of Wilson Township was the announcement that Glen Catt’s Catt Development is planning to develop at Save-A-Lot store on M-75 toward Boyne City sometime this summer.
In addition to roadwork, the township hosted a meeting on bike trails. The other major project was to acquire Camp Sea-Gull, which took years of work from committees and boards and other volunteers to pull together the funding and other obligations to make the property into a public park.