Village Council Meeting – last night

Here are highlights of the council meeting.

Budget
Village President Dan Reszka gave an overview narrative of the continuing Village program of cost reductions, then Village Manager Bob Peterson presented a summary of the new budget. Significant changes have occurred in employment costs, with a wage freeze and reduction in health insurance costs standing out. Citizen comments regarding clarifications and concerns were addressed.

Burnette Foods
A formal process began to consider an application by Burnette Foods for a tax abatement for proposed new construction. Last night, Council designated the property an Industrial Development Zone, which is the first formal step in a lengthy and public process. No decision has been made about the abatement itself.

Property Values in Elk Rapids
Noting a recent Record-Eagle article that stated there was a 19% decrease in property values in Antrim County, President Reszka stated that he had checked with Elk Rapids Township Supervisor Bill White. Elk Rapids values have declined 3.58%, leaving all of us to ponder what is happening in the rest of the county.

Lakewatch
Antrim County is looking for volunteers to help our Marine Patrol monitor the Chain of Lakes. Contact the county for more information.

Joint Planning Commission
As part of a grant award to establish a joint planning commission (Village and Township) to prepare a combo Master Plan, President Reszka appointed the following four members from the Village: Barb Mullaly, Royce Ragland, Doug Bronkema and (reluctantly) himself. Four additional members will be appointed by the Township.

Education Pathway
A plan was presented to establish an 8-foot wide pathway (non-motorized trail) connecting the Ames Street sidwalk to Elk Rapids Schools. The proposed path goes east of the former Longfellow School along the Park Street extension, then along Park Street and turns left past the athletic field to connect with the schools. The Village is seeking funding from a number of sources for this path.

County Parks & Land Meeting
On April 5, Antrim County hosts a meeting about the future of the Dam Beach property,  regarding a possible deed restriction, conservation easement or some other formal status accorded this area. Besides the county, representatives from the Dam Beach Committee as well as Dan Reszka and Chuck Schuler from the Village. There is one other representative from the Village appointed, but I did not catch the name.

Green Elk Rapids Days
Led by Royce Ragland, there is considerable planning underway for an expanded Green ER Days extravaganza. Scheduled for May 16-23, there are many events in the works. Check out the Green Elk Rapids page on the Village Web site for more info.

Boater Survey
Results from the recent boater survey are in, and they show an overwhelming satisfaction with our harbor facilities and staff, scoring an overall 9.5 out of a possible 10. Detailed survey information is available at Government Center.

EZ Mart
Doug Bronkema reported about lingering safety and environmental concerns that are being addressed by both Blarney Castle Oil and our Planning Commission, prior to a vote on the proposal to build a new gas station/convenience store/fast-food outlet at the corner of First Street and U.S. 31. The next Planning Commission meeting is on March 22.

Economic Development
Details are coming soon about the enhanced Economic Development role for our Downtown Development Association. Lindy Bishop is leading an effort to attract new businesses.

In other news, the Planning Commission is considering ordinance changes to deal with medical marijuana, and there will be upcoming forums on water quality sponsored by the Watershed Center.

Much more information about this meeting will be available soon in The Elk Rapids News.

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More than a lifelong connection to Elk Rapids
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