2017-03-16 / Front Page

City balks at cost of potential lift station

Grand Oaks II may be annulled
By Paula K. Schmidt
810-452-2647 • pschmidt@mihomepaper.com

GRAND BLANC — A Planned Unit Development (PUD) for Grand Oaks II, a proposed apartment development across Reid Rd. from the current Grand Oaks apartment complex, may be canceled following last week’s city council meeting.

The development has been on the back burner since 2013 when first proposed and negotiated by then city manager Paul Brake. From the beginning officials agreed that a necessary sewer pump lift station would be paid for my Grand Oaks, and built by the city.

Recent estimates put the cost at $300,000 (up about $15,000) and due to this, the city amended the PUD to state they would assist with paying only up to 30 percent of that amount, or $30,000.

Michael Tobin, CEO of Group Five Management which owns the complex, balked at that, stating unequivocally they would not sign the PUD under that condition or pay anymore than the $300,000.

This means the extension recently given to start construction expires May 17, without the PUD being signed. Calls to Tobin to clarify what this means for the development, were not returned prior to deadline.

Although the city signed off on the original PUD, Group Five never did, requesting amendments which the city would not agree to. The negotiations were further complicated by Brake’s leaving the city and the city attorney Walt Griffin, having to pick up them up after that.

Furthermore, city officials admitted in last weeks’ meeting they jumped the gun in sending the developer to the Planning Commission without having a signed PUD agreement first. Susan Friedlaender, representative for the developer, said it would be to the city’s benefit to agree to any costs over the $300,000.

“I studied the master plan and this property is targeted for high density and in the DDA district,” said Friedlaender. “So there are tangible benefits.” she estimated the DDA could receive up to $195,000 in tax revenue from the project.

She also added the city’s capital improvement plan indicated the need for expanded sewer capacity and that the lift station would provide this, offering additional infrastructure for the economic development the city is trying to attract.

Additionally, Friedlaender said the initial agreement was to cover the costs only up to a certain point and “…there was no discussion of contingencies. We are going to give you the money to increase the taxable value of this property and build it, but now you want us to take on all the risk and we won’t. If you want it to remain vacant it will,” she said.

Tobin also said he wanted assurances from the city the lift station would be completed in a timely manner before putting his ‘$9 million dollars in the ground’. A motion to approve the PUD as is, despite Tobin’s ultimatum, passed unanimously 5-0.

In other business, the council approved an amendment to the mutual aid agreement for the fire department, and accepted a grant for improvements to the recreational trail on Perry Rd. which they city hope will eventually connect to the state’s Iron Belle trail (http://grandblancview.mihomepaper.com/news/2016-12-01/Front_Page/City_co... approves_township_reque.html)

They also approved $3,000 to enable banner signs on the back side of the arches at the city border on S. Saginaw near Center Rd., an improvement which City Manager Wendy Jean-Buhrer states will help boost communication of local events and potential income to the city coffers.

Approval was further granted for summer food truck festival, which will be held on each First Friday of the month from May through September and will include entertainment as well as the possibility of the DDA or associated businesses having tables with food or other outreach available.

The event is looking at being set up on the grounds of the high school parking lot and will be sponsored by the DDA. They also approved the placing of blue ribbons on lamp posts in the DDA district for April to bring awareness to the issue of child abuse for that month. It is a cooperative project of the Whaley Children’s center and the Weiss Advocacy center.

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