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Tag Archive | "city council"

Planning commission OKs PUD rezoning


 

By Judy Reed

The building of a new public library and other recreation facilities on properties near Main and Maple Street in Cedar Springs came one step closer to reality this week. On Tuesday evening, January 5, the Cedar Springs Planning Commission passed a motion approving the rezoning of several parcels to B-3, Highway Business/PUD Planned Unit Development, and recommended approval to the City Council.

The rezoning was requested by the Community Building Development Team, a group made up of individuals and representatives of various organizations in the community. They have been working for the past three years to develop eight acres of land, within the City limits, into “The Heart of Cedar Springs.” It will be a place where the local citizens and visitors can enjoy a new library building, a community building, a recreation center, and an amphitheater, all placed among beautiful rain gardens and sculptures along a board walk on the banks of Cedar Creek.

Some of the property is owned by the City of Cedar Springs, such as where the library and ampitheatre will go; other parcels are owned by the CBDT. The rezoning of the parcels was requested to allow for a unified public facility development for the entire site. An associated preliminary PUD site plan will help ensure a single cohesive development, although the construction will be done in phases.

The parcels included were:

180 N. Fifth St. (41-02-25-426-020)

116 N. Fifth St. (41-02-25-426-010)

69 W. Maple St. (41-02-25-427-017)

65 W. Maple St. (41-02-25-427-019)

107 N. Main St. (41-02-25-427-016)

113 N. Main St. (41-02-25-427-015)

125 N. Main St. (41-02-25-427-014)

139 N. Main St. (41-02-25-427-013)

157 N. Main St. (41-02-25-427-012)

37 W. Maple St. (41-02-25-427-007)

City planner Carmine Avantini, recommended approval with the conditions that the property ownership will be under the single control of the Community Building Development Team; and that there was a waiver to allow a maximum three-foot front building setback from N. Main Street. The properties located in the PUD will be under the single control of the Community Building and Development Team (CBDT), with ownership being maintained by the City of Cedar Springs through a use agreement.

Avantini noted in the agenda packet that the PUD meets goals in the city’s master plan and the PUD article. He said that the primary goal of the Cedar Springs Master Plan under “Community Facilities” is to “Maintain and develop parks and recreational facilities to enhance the visual character of the city and promote active lifestyles.” He said this PUD will meet this goal and the Master Plan anticipated public use for the site.

He also noted that one of the purposes of the PUD Article is “to encourage development of convenient recreational facilities.” This PUD will be located on the edge of Downtown Cedar Springs and will be in close proximity to residential neighborhoods, a major thoroughfare (Main Street), the White Pine Trail, and a mixed-use traditional downtown. The proposed library and recreation facilities will therefore be highly accessible to most residents of the city and also be available for special events in the downtown area.

The next step in the process will be for the City Council to take action on the PUD rezoning request at their next meeting, on Thursday, January 7, 2016.

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Library votes for city to own new library


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 PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.


 

 

I recently attended a special meeting of the Cedar Springs Library Board where they voted unanimously to request that the City own the new library after it is built. I am grateful for the board’s diligence, vision, and faith that not only would our community recognize the value of a new library but actively embrace it. I am also grateful for the considerable supports the CBDT has provided both financially and in creative problem solving. As a member of the City Council, I am looking forward to partnering with both the Library Board and the CBDT as we move toward construction. This process has been a testimony to the countless people who have patiently and tenaciously strived to realize a dream for this community that now spans decades. I am confident that our new library will be an asset to this community for generations to come. I truly believe the most important gift we can give our children is access to knowledge. This library exemplifies that gift. I want to thank all those involved for putting in the hard work to make this happen.

Sincerely,

Pam Conley, City of Cedar Springs

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Festival donates Red Flannel medallion to city


The Red Flannel Queen and court member presented the Ronny Merlington Memorial Medallion to his wife, Shirley Merlington

The Red Flannel Queen and court member presented the Ronny Merlington Memorial Medallion to his wife, Shirley Merlington

By Judy Reed

The Red Flannel Festival presented the city with a large wooden Red Flannel medallion, called the Ronny Merlington Memorial Medallion, to replace the one originally commissioned by Merlington, a longtime council member and former mayor who has since passed away. They presented the medallion at a special meeting of the City Council last Friday evening.

The original medallion that hung on the city’s wall for many years was destroyed after a cease and desist letter was sent by the Red Flannel Festival to the City.

Resident Kathy Bremmer told the Council that if the threat of a lawsuit still stands, then the council would be in violation of the law if they instruct the City Manager to hang the medallion on the wall.

*N-Red Flannel2Mark Fankhauser, a Keystone Cop and former Mayor of Cedar Springs, commended the Festival for honoring Merlington, and said he was a phenomenal individual.  “But there are concerns that council has to address,” he noted. “Both entities can survive independently. I don’t think we need to blend the logos. Regardless, Cedar Springs will always be known as the Red Flannel Town.”

Councilor Rose Powell said it was not a logo, but a symbol of the community’s culture. “It goes beyond being a sign. Hopefully it will restore our city as the Red Flannel Town,” she said.

Councilor Perry Hopkins said he didn’t know Merlington, but thought it would be honorable to honor him. “If we could have the cease and desist removed, it would be an honorable thing to hang on the wall,” he said.

“I don’t think the division is what Ronny would want for us,” said Councilor Dan Clark. “I hope hanging this would be some type of unification.”

Red Flannel President Michele Tracy and the board was in attendance for the presentation, and so was Shirley Merlington, Ronny’s wife, and this year’s RFF Grand Marshal. Ronny was Grand Marshal in 1994.

The Cedar Springs Red Flannel committee and the Red Flannel Festival will meet Thursday evening, June 4, at 5:30 p.m., at the Creative Technologies lounge to discuss a potential Red Flannel Festival agreement.

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City Council discusses agreement with Red Flannel


 

N-City-logo-webBy Judy Reed

At their regular meeting on Monday, 14, the Cedar Springs City Council discussed their concerns with a potential agreement with the Red Flannel Festival .

Under the two-part agreement, the City would offer in kind services (mainly DPW) to the RFF, and be able to license the various logos owned by the Festival free of charge. No money would change hands.

City Councilor Rose Powell said that she talked to Rockford City Manager Michael Young, and they provide in kind services to 50 festivals held there. She noted that Sparta does the same, with an in-kind cap of $5,000.

City Manager Thad Taylor said that with the way the agreement is written, his concern was that there was no way to determine what the cost would be. “I am also extremely concerned about a unanimous vote to get out of the agreement,” he noted.

Mayor Pro-tem Pam Conley, who is on the committee working on the agreement, said that they didn’t put a number in there (a cap) and that they needed direction from Council.

Councilor Perry Hopkins said that if they do this, they need to be ready to do it for all events, and he felt that they should leave trademarks out of it. “Just use the in kind services. I think it’s taking a step backward (to use the logo),” he said.

Mayor Jerry Hall said he thought they should wait on the trademark and just work on the agreement for services for now.

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Council approves easement for brewery


N-Brewery

By Judy Reed

Construction is underway again on the Cedar Springs Brewing Company, at 95 N. Main, after the Cedar Springs City Council approved a right-of-way easement last Thursday, May 7, allowing them to move the building two feet to the north.

Excavation of the site was started two weeks ago, and temporarily halted, when they discovered that the building next door, Liquor Hut, did not have a foundation, and they could not construct their building with a zero lot line without possibly damaging that one. The Liquor Hut building was built in 1900, and it’s unknown whether it was built on a slab, or if there is foundation under other parts of the building.

City Manager Thad Taylor told the Council that the most feasible plan was to move the proposed construction two feet to the north, on the city-owned property (where the sidewalk is.) They approved the easement 6-0.

Owner Dave Ringler said there will still be parking, and they are still looking at a late summer/early fall opening.

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City and Red Flannel Festival work on agreement


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N-red-flannel-logoBy Judy Reed

Will Cedar Springs be known once again as the Red Flannel Town? If an agreement between the City and the Red Flannel Festival is approved, the City could once again use that nickname at no charge.

A City committee made up of Mayor Pro Tem Pam Conley, and Councilors Dan Clark and Molly Nixon, met with Red Flannel President Michele Tracy and her committee, to work out an agreement. The RFF lawyer then drew up the agreements that the City Council will discuss Thursday evening, May 14, for the first time.

Under the agreement, the City would trade in-kind services in order to license the various logos owned by the Festival. They would not bill the Festival for any services.

“That type of agreement—the trading of in-kind services—seemed to be the most popular way of handling this, according to the West Michigan Municipal League,” commented Clark.

Tracy is pleased with the progress they are making. “The Red Flannel Board is thrilled to have open, honest, sincere dialogue with the City Ad Hoc Committee,” she said. “Our first meeting went smoothly.”

Since the City no longer has their own police department, the Festival would need to contract for their own security, and, according to Michele Andres, they have met with Sgt. Jason Kelley, of the Kent County Sheriff Department’s Cedar Springs unit, and are waiting for an estimate.

The City will discuss the agreement tonight, Thursday, May 14.

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Vacant lot to get new life


Digging began this week on a new house to be built at 40 E. Maple. Post photo by J. Reed.

Digging began this week on a new house to be built at 40 E. Maple. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

 

A lot with historical significance in the City of Cedar Springs, but has sat vacant for five years, is getting a new lease on life.

On February 7, 2010, a once beautiful and elegant old house that had been turned into apartments was destroyed by fire. The house at 40 E. Maple, located on the southwest corner of Maple and First, had long ago been the home of Sally Wall, who for years had sewn the city’s famous Red Flannels both in her home, and then later, in her remodeled barn next door at 36 E. Maple (which is now the Cedar Springs Post).

The previous house at 40 E. Maple was destroyed in a fire five years ago. Post photo by J. Reed.

The previous house at 40 E. Maple was destroyed in a fire five years ago. Post photo by J. Reed.

When the house burned, in the wee hours of the morning, it was a total loss, and what didn’t burn was torn down. There were a few inquiries into the lot; but nothing serious until last year, when Inner City Christian Federation, an organization similar to Habitat for Humanity, decided it would be a good lot to build a home on for someone who needed it. Their mission is to “provide housing opportunities and services that encourage family responsibility and independence, thereby helping to build stable communities.”

“I like to call us Habitat on steroids,” joked Don Fredricks, Construction Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator for ICCF. He also happens to be a licensed builder. “We have a whole education department that they go through,” he explained. He said potential homeowners are educated in home maintenance, how to manage credit, family values, etc. “They have to know the why and how to take care of a home,” he added.

N-40-E-Maple-blueprint-3The house will be a three-bedroom, two-story home, similar to others in the area. The house will face Maple Street, with the driveway off First. Digging out the basement began this week.

“We really wanted to start this last year, but it didn’t work out,” said Fredricks.

He said that with the cold weather, the first few stages would be subcontracted out instead of using volunteers. “We will be subcontracting the framing, roofing, siding, mechanical, electrical and heating work. With this cold weather, we need to make sure it’s done correctly.”

Volunteers will be needed when they start on the trim, carpentry, painting, landscaping, etc. If anyone would like to volunteer for that, they are welcome to call Fredricks at (616) 336-9333. He said they are shooting to be done by the end of June, or the end of August. “The way our financing works, the owner has to be working at the time, and since she works for a school, she doesn’t work during the summer,” he explained.

The owner of the home will be a single mom who lives in the area. Fredricks said there is definitely a need in the area for this type of housing.

“The County has been after us for years to do in the rural community what we normally do in the inner city,” he explained. The catch is that the community has to have city water and sewer, so it can’t be just anywhere. They also built a few homes in the City of Lowell several years ago. “Cedar Springs and Lowell both seem to be the two communities that could really use this,” he noted.

They are also looking at a city-owned lot on Pine Street. That will still have to be approved by the City Council, however. City Manager Thad Taylor said it would be taken up at the next City Council meeting.

 

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City approves settlement of lawsuit


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By Judy Reed

 

The Cedar Springs City Council approved a motion last Thursday to settle the civil lawsuit brought last fall over an alleged Open Meetings violation.

The lawsuit was brought by Council members Bob Truesdale, Dan Clark, and citizen Mark Laws. They allege the OMA violation occurred at the August 21 City Council meeting, when they went into closed session believing there was a written communication from the attorney to consider. Then Mayor Mark Fankhauser told the council during the workshop portion of the meeting that they needed to go into closed session because he had correspondence from the attorney, and it was added to the agenda that way. They went into closed session at the tail end of the meeting, and when they came out, they voted 4-3 to renew the contract of City Manager Thad Taylor.

The lawsuit alleged that there was no attorney correspondence considered.

Those who voted against the contract—Dan Clark, Jerry Hall, and Bob Truesdale—noted that they had not seen it before, and did not have time to digest it. And, in fact, said they did not know they were going to be voting on it that night.

According to several council members, it was based on reviews done a year earlier.

The Council later came back in a special meeting and rescinded the motion to go into closed session, but did not release any attorney correspondence. They also reaffirmed the City Manager contract.

According to City Manager Thad Taylor, terms of the settlement include:

The City will record all future open and closed meetings of the Council, and retain the recordings as required by law.

They will also pay for and hold training sessions for Council members on the Open Meetings Act and parliamentary procedure.

They are not admitting to a violation of the OMA, but they will acknowledge that there was a good faith dispute.

They will also pay the plaintiffs $3,500 towards legal expenses.

The Council approved the purchase of the video camera to record the meetings, for $298, which includes storage of the of recordings offsite in the cloud. Taylor said the intent is to make the open session recordings accessible to the public through their website. The camera will be permanently affixed to the wall, and they hope to have it installed by the next meeting.

Truesdale, who funded the lawsuit, will only see a portion of what he spent returned. “I don’t feel good about the money, but I do feel good about being in the place to promote right. Overall, I feel good to have been able to make a statement. I am not willing to sit idly by and watch that happen,” he said.

Prior to the lawsuit, the Post had expressed concern at a City Council meeting about the way the contract was decided, and cited a legal expert regarding the proper procedure, but received no official explanation or response from the Council on their actions.

 

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Former city employee becomes Mayor


Jerry Hall is the new Mayor of Cedar Springs, and Pam Conley is Mayor Pro-tem. Post photo by J. Reed.

Jerry Hall is the new Mayor of Cedar Springs, and Pam Conley is Mayor Pro-tem. Post photo by J. Reed.

by Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council, made up of four new members and three returning members, chose a new Mayor and Mayor Pro-tem at their meeting on Thursday, November 13.

Four new members were sworn in—Rose Powell, Molly Nixon, Perry Hopkins and Pam Conley. Conley, who previously served, lost her seat last year in a close election.

Three members of the Council were nominated to be Mayor: Jerry Hall, Pamela  Conley and Dan Clark. Conley declined the nomination. The Council first voted on Hall, and the motion passed 5-2, with only Hopkins and Bob Truesdale dissenting.

Nominations were then opened for Mayor Pro-tem. Both Clark and Conley were nominated. Clark was voted in 4-3, but then refused the nomination. The vote was then taken on Conley, and it was unanimous.

Hall is retired from the City of Cedar Springs, where he was formerly the Superintendent of Public Works. He also served on the City Planning Commission and six years on the Cedar Springs Board of Education.

“I appreciate the confidence put in me, and I hope I can do it justice,” said Hall. “I think we can all move forward. That’s the direction we need to go,” he added.

Conley also previously served on the Cedar Springs Board of Education before coming to City Council. She thanked everyone for electing her back to the Council. “You seem to want me here,” she said. She also urged people to come to her with concerns. “Please talk to me about what you want,” she said.

One thing that Hall made clear to the Council and the audience was that he was going to be strict about enforcing time limits for public speaking, as well as the content. “I will not tolerate personal attacks on Council members or city employees,” he remarked. Hall had told the audience early on that if they happened, he would adjourn the meeting.

 

 

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Four new members voted on to City Council


Perry Hopkins

Perry Hopkins

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley

 

Molly Nixon

Molly Nixon

 

Rose Powell

Rose Powell

By Judy Reed

 

Voters in the City of Cedar Springs cleaned house Tuesday and voted in four new faces to the City Council.

Perry Hopkins, Pamela Conley, Molly Nixon and Rose Powell all won seats. Leaving the council will be Mayor Mark Fankhauser, Mayor Pro-tem Patricia Troost, and Ashley Bremmer. Ken Benham decided not to run again. Both Troost and Bremmer were up for recall.

Conley (382 votes) and Hopkins (325) beat out Fankhauser (311) for two seats. Nixon (310) ran against Bremmer (295), and Powell (346) ran against Troost (270) under the new recall law.

The candidates ran in two groups. Signs around town urged people to vote for either Conley, Nixon and Powell, or Fankhauser, Troost, Bremmer and Hopkins.

A little over 33 percent of registered voters voted in the election.

Winners of this election will join Dan Clark, Jerry Hall, and Bob Truesdale as members of the City Council at the November 13 meeting.

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