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Allowing multiple marijuana businesses ignores master plan

Our quaint little town of Cedar Springs is facing a major threat to the character and values of its citizens and businesses alike.  By potentially opening up our downtown and the city as a whole to multiple marijuana businesses, the City Council has completely ignored our Master Plan’s vision for our fair city. 

The Master Plan Vision states, “Cedar Springs will build upon its small-town character by upgrading and reinforcing the downtown as a quaint center for community gatherings, recreation, specialty shopping and governmental services.” Its economic goals, in part, are to “Attract specialty businesses downtown that will enhance the unique character of the area.” Housing plans are to promote the single-family character of Cedar Springs and also provide a broad mix of housing types downtown. The plan calls for making it comfortable and easy for people to walk and bicycle throughout the city.

The City Council totally ignored the Planning Commission’s recommendation against allowing marijuana businesses in the downtown area. Our leadership is convinced that flooding the downtown with those businesses, for the purpose of renovating old buildings, is worth the risk to our community’s health, safety and general welfare. They are willing to try this “experiment” with little regard as to the possible damage it could do to our recently improved reputation in the area, our property values, and to current businesses.

Marijuana does not fit in our downtown. It does nothing to “enhance the unique character of the area” as described in the economic plan’s goals outlined in the Master Plan.  The word “quaint” means charming, sweet, attractive, and old-world.  That is what Cedar Springs is, a quaint little town where kids ride bikes, families walk downtown, and seniors feel safe.  There is nothing quaint about armed guards standing outside a building on Main Street. There is nothing quaint about people lining up to be registered to go inside a marijuana shop. 

A three-year study in Denver showed an increase in property crimes in the areas surrounding a marijuana shop, 83 a year over normal, or 1.6 a week and it is in our neighborhoods that the threat would exist. Because it is a cash only business, there is a further threat of criminal activity. Those businesses would be detrimental to the unique character and safely of the entire area.

The Planning Commission can stop this from happening downtown. If they follow the guidelines for a special land, use there is no way they could approve a marijuana business downtown. Those standards are listed in the City’s Ordinances.

Kathryn Bremmer

City of Cedar Springs

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POST Scripts Notice

The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Vote for Curtis DeJong

Dear Citizens of Nelson Township,

You have an opportunity to vote for an outstanding member of our community for trustee.  Curtis DeJong is an enthusiastic young man with the skills, energy and desire to contribute and make a positive difference in our township.  I have known Curtis since he was in my first grade class, and he has always been willing to work hard to set and achieve his goals.  His background and experience in business and education makes him uniquely qualified to be an excellent leader and communicator for the people of Nelson Township.  Please vote for Curtis on Tuesday, August 4.  

Respectfully,

Karen L. Gebhardt, Nelson Township

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Assertions on school bond proposal not accurate

(response to letter last week from Daniel Davis)

Mr. Davis,

Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy. Many of the assertions shared in your letter published in the Post on July 23 were not accurate. Cedar Springs Public Schools is not asking our community to “just trust us” concerning this upcoming bond election or any other facet of our operation. Countless public meetings have taken place since November 2018 discussing the District’s facility needs. We are asking our community to “join us” as together, we can partner to make Cedar Springs an even more attractive place to live, learn, work, and play. 

Please allow me to clarify the ballot’s wording regarding the general obligation unlimited tax bonds. While the word “unlimited” does appear on the ballot, it does not relate to the amount of money Cedar Springs Public Schools can obtain from its community through taxes. The bond application approved by the Board of Education in a public meeting on April 13, 2020, and on file with the State Department of Treasury, clearly spells out the details of the projects included in the bond proposal. The maximum amount of bonds that can be legally issued cannot exceed the $68,000,000 stated in the ballot language. The word “unlimited” pertains to the full faith and commitment of Cedar Springs Public Schools to repay the bond debt through the collection of taxes.  

Even an extremely conservative estimate indicates CSPS will not need to increase the tax rate to repay these general obligation bonds. The district will have thirty (30) years to repay the obligation. However, it is estimated that passage of the $68,000,000 bond would still only keep the debt millage rate at 7.00 mills through 2036 before slowly declining as a result of bond repayment and taxable value growth. For the record, property values in Cedar Springs are increasing. The present five-year average historical taxable value growth for properties located in the Cedar Springs Public Schools District is 4.74%. The twenty-year average historical taxable value growth rate is 4.09%. The taxable value growth for 2020 and 2019 have been 5.36% and 6.37% respectively.

Chris LaHaie, Chief Financial Officer

Cedar Springs Public Schools

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Vote NO on school proposal

The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election. 

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Vote NO on school proposal

On Aug 4 we will be voting on another school bond proposal. It is very important to carefully read the proposal as written on the ballot. We are told no “expected” tax rate increase, yet the ballot language clearly states “unlimited tax bonds.” Furthermore, the proposal on the ballot is so nonspecific about how the money will be spent that they can do whatever they want. They want us to just trust them, which would be a big mistake.

With over $32 million of bond debt and $1.6 million qualified loans on the books already, adding the $68 million debt this proposal calls for would triple our total debt. This is absolutely reckless, irresponsible and totally insane!

The property tax bills that came recently are nearly 40 percent higher than they would be without existing school debt! If we don’t add more debt, the sky high 7 mills for debt service will start to decrease in a few years and the debt will be eliminated by about 2032. If we foolishly pass this proposal, property taxes will remain in the stratosphere for three more decades (until 2052). Shamefully, a large part of the burden of paying off that debt would be left for today’s students to pay after they graduate.

This proposal is very expensive and provides relatively little benefit for its massive cost. Tearing down most of Beach Elementary would be extremely costly and wasteful. Clearly, their priorities are more about wants than needs.

With the pandemic we face and uncertainty about the economy, there couldn’t be a worse time to pile on massive new debt. Please vote NO and then demand that school officials stop looking at taxpayers as cash cows to be milked.  

One final note: If you have submitted an absentee ballot with a yes vote for this proposal, you can still ask your local clerk to issue a new ballot so that you can make a better choice.

Daniel Davis, Courtland Township


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Echoes of a bygone era

As I listen to the news about the coronavirus, I was reminded of a similar happening much closer to us in Cedar Springs. In 1884 a Diphtheria epidemic struck this community. The following is from a historical account written by Betty L. Heiss titled “Solon Township Out of the Wilderness” published in 1995.

“The Diphtheria epidemic occurred in1884 while William E. Davis was sexton. This dreaded disease was so infectious that when family members died, burials usually took place at night in unmarked graves. Those in need of the sexton’s assistance would come to the end of his driveway and ring the bell for William, who lived only one half mile from the cemetery. An excerpt taken from a family history written by his granddaughter Leona, relates what happened after her grandfather contacted that malady.

‘…so my grandmother sent the children to live in the barn until he recovered. She would take food to them part way and they would come the rest of the way to get it after she went back to the house. Fortunately, none of them got it, but when they returned to school they missed a lot of children. One family lost five children.’”

From 2004 until 2012 I had the privilege of serving as Solon Township Clerk. As part of my duties I was charged with keeping the records for the cemetery. During this time the Deputy Clerk and I spent many hours trying to put together accurate computer records of the cemetery. What we found out was there were many unmarked graves with the simple notation “baby” on an old oil skin map of the cemetery. I believe we counted nine.

On a second note I was driving through Cedar Springs recently and I couldn’t help but notice how empty it seemed. Hardly any cars and few people. While some people might think it reminds them of a ghost town, I thought of a bygone time. A time when I was growing up in the 50s. A Sunday when everyone went to church, had dinner with the family and no businesses were open.

Maybe God’s trying to tell us something and we’re so wrapped up in ourselves we forgot.

John W. Rideout                                                                                                                                      Solon Township

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Assurance of Easter

The threat of the COVID-19 virus and the assurance of Easter reminded me of the church hymn taken from 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (KJV).

Lyle Perry Jr.

Cedar Springs

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Great turnout for Velzy Park fundraiser


Once again the community of Cedar Springs and the surrounding area has amazed me by the generosity shown at every turn. On Friday, February 7, Solon Township’s Velzy Park had their fifth annual spaghetti dinner and dessert auction. Upwards of 70 people showed up to support the park. The dinner and dessert auction combined netted the park over $2,100 towards playground equipment. 

Many people participated through planning, volunteering, donating and attending. I’ve seen the same support again and again in many areas of the community. This is an awesome place to live! Thank you.

Vicky Babcock, Solon Township


POST Scripts NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Ask City to opt out of marijuana businesses


Under the leadership of Manager Mike Womack, and invaluable input from City Planner Tim Johnson, Cedar Springs has made great progress in becoming business friendly. We’ve seen old restrictive ordinances changed to encourage business and Main Street filled with new restaurants and beautiful shops as a result. The CBDT has been instrumental in building a library, an amphitheater and parks, creating beautiful spaces for people to enjoy. Homes have been renovated, yards cleaned up and new people are excited to move here. 

It’s taken a lot of hard work to make Cedar Springs a family friendly place to live, work and play. Our City Council holds the power to keep it family friendly, a place where people want to raise a family, to retire and to live in peace and safety. That brings us to a decision they will be asked to make in the near future, whether or not to allow recreational marijuana businesses.

Current rules on recreational marijuana are emergency rules; they are in flux. A popular misconception is that millions of dollars would flow into our city; there is no data supporting that. Will enforcement or medical costs increase for taxpayers to bear? Will more easily accessible product have an impact on safety, on noxious odors, on family relationships, on children? How would it impact the character of our community? Plenty of cities are getting on board, will they live to regret it? Let’s move slowly and see how those cities are affected before taking the “everybody is doing it” attitude.

At the November 15 public forum we were given options on what types of businesses, in which zoning districts, and how many types of each business the City should consider allowing.  The option of completely opting out was missing, therefore, it appeared that allowing marijuana businesses in our fair city was a done deal. It is not. The decision to allow or disallow any such facilities lies with the City Council.

Ask the Council to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities in Cedar Springs by e-mailing City Manager Mike Womack at: manager@cityofcedarsprings.org  

The next public forum will be held on December 12 from 5:30 to 7 p,m, at the Cedar Springs Public Library.

Kathy A. Bremmer

City of Cedar Springs

Post Scripts NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election. 

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Post Scripts NOTICE

The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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