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Tag Archive | "City Hall"

City in need of planning commission members


Do you live in the City of Cedar Springs? Would you like to make a difference in the community? The City of Cedar Springs is looking for additional Planning Commission Members.

The Planning Commission helps shape the future of land use and business development in the City. The board consists of eight members of the community and the Mayor. There is currently one vacant seat, and one or two more seats are expected to be vacant within the year.

The Planning Commission is a volunteer board and usually meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The input from the commission provides citizens the opportunity to have an input on the decisions that will shape the community for many years to come. To get an idea of what the Planning Commission does, you can download a Planning Commission handbook from the Michigan Municipal League at https://www.mml.org/pdf/pcebook.pdf.

Those wanting to apply for a position must  be 18+ year old, a city resident, and fill out the application that you can find online at http://dev.cityofcedarsprings.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/boards-and-commissions-application.pdf. Please email applications to manager@cityofcedarsprings.org or drop them off at City Hall. The City Manager and the Mayor will review the applications and make their suggestion to the City Council for appointment to the Planning Commission. Application deadline for the vacant position will be July 24.

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City to hold special meeting tonight (Thursday)


By Judy Reed

This City of Cedar Springs will hold a special meeting on Thursday, June 29, at 7 p.m. at City Hall, to take care of some last minute business before the new fiscal year starts on July 1.

Action items include voting on purchasing a new radar speed sign for the city; Morley Park pavilion rental and electricity at the pavilion; and a motion to approve the Library Services Agreement, Grant Area District revision.

According to City Manager Mike Womack, the radar sign would be portable and could be moved around the City, wherever there was a need.

“The reasoning behind the radar sign is that we have seen the Sheriff Department’s radar sign in action and it absolutely does result in slower traffic, which is safer for the public,” explained Womack. “By having our own sign, we could be quicker to respond to citizen complaints of speeding traffic and we would also have the benefit of the resulting data that the sign takes in while its measuring traffic speed. This data could then be used to help direct when/where Sheriff intervention might be needed but it could also be used for economic development reasons such as knowing how many cars go past a certain place during a day or week.”

He added that the radar sign is also part of his ongoing initiative to make the streets safer for pedestrians overall. “We are also considering pedestrian crossing signs in the downtown area and we will be repainting the crosswalk paint on the asphalt,” he explained.

The radar signs they will be looking at range from a low of $1,785 to $3,165.

There are also several discussion items on the agenda, including choices of several different logos to use on the Elm Street garage that people walking or riding on the White Pine Trail would see; pedestrian crosswalk signs; and whether they can inscribe “Red Flannel Town” on the new clocktower at the corner of Main and W. Maple, by the library.

 

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City votes to retain City Manager


City Manager Michael Womack is doing a good job for the City of Cedar  Springs.

City Manager Michael Womack is doing a good job for the City of Cedar Springs.

Cedar Springs City Councilors have decided that they like the job that City Manager Michael Womack is doing for them.

On January 12th, 2017, City Councilors reviewed the first six months of Womack’s performance as City Manager, assessing him in multiple categories.

Overall the Cedar Springs City Council rated Womack’s performance as very competent. Councilors stated that they were highly satisfied with Womack’s hiring of new staff and for creating an inviting atmosphere at City Hall. Councilors were also happy that Womack has created a good working relationship with Council, staff and the public. Womack also received praise for conducting the City’s business in a pleasant, positive and professional manner. Councilors did note that Womack could work harder at reaching out to City businesses and would like to see him continue working on the Heart of Cedar Springs project, the new fire barn and new streets and sidewalks in the City.

City Council voted 7-0 to retain Womack as City Manager and voted 7-0 to increase Womack’s salary $2000 per year to $74,000.

Womack started as City Manager on August 1st, 2016, replacing Thad Taylor, who departed the City for Manistee in November, 2015. Womack stated that he was very happy with Council’s vote of confidence in him and that Cedar Springs has been very welcoming.

“I look forward to working for the community for several years to come,” said Womack. “The City is working towards being more business-friendly and I’m looking forward to all the opportunities for growth and improvement in the near future.”

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Meet City Manager Mike Womack


Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack started August 1. Post photo by J. Reed.

Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack started August 1. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It took nine months, but the City of Cedar Springs finally has a new full time City Manager overseeing operations at City Hall.

Mike Womack, 34, started in his new position August 1.

Just prior to coming to Cedar Springs, Womack was an Executive Intern for the Village of Lake Orion, Michigan, which is located on the east side of the state,

and a Graduate Assistant, in the City Manager’s office in the City of Eastpointe, Michigan. He was also working as an Attorney at Womack & Womack P.C., in Shelby Township.

Womack said his time at EastPointe and the Village of Lake Orion was valuable. “I learned a lot. There is no substitute for the mentoring you get through internships. It helped me to prepare for this job,” he explained.

Womack was born in Rochester, Michigan, and grew up in Troy. He graduated from Eisenhauer High School in Shelby. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Oakland University; his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and his Masters of Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

As a lawyer, Womack defended felony and misdemeanor cases, probate, and juvenile law. He also worked in oil and gas, and property law for a time in Pennsylvania. During that time, he would commute back to Michigan for classes. “I was always going, but began to feel worn out,” he said.

So why did he decide to make a career move into small town government?

“After seven or eight years of being a lawyer, I decided I wanted to do something else,” he explained. “As a child, I thought I might do something in government. I first thought of politics, but then realized I could do more good behind the scenes.”

Womack met his wife, Glenna, when they were both undergrads. They married in 2013, at the Beach and Yacht Club at Disney World, in Florida. The children they have are of the furry variety. “We have four dogs and a chinchilla,” he said.

Womack said he was somewhat familiar with this area of Michigan, from going camping up in White Cloud, and traveling up and down the west coast of the state, and visiting the Grand Rapids area. “During college I had a few buddies who went to school here,” he explained.

What does our new city manager like to do during his free time? “I’m a bit of a policy wonk,” he admitted, “I like to go home and read a white paper on best practices.” The Post asked him what he likes to do when he’s not reading white papers. He said he likes to do some shooting, though he doesn’t like to hunt. “That doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to a bit of venison jerky every now and then,” remarked. He also likes to do some long distance running and triathalons occasionally. “I used to do some amateur astronomy, but there was too much light where I was,” he explained. He also likes computer and video games, playing softball, and watching baseball. “I’m really looking forward to enjoying some White Caps games,” he said.

Womack has been living in a hotel, but was moving into an apartment this week. He said it would be about six months before his wife is able to join him. She needs to close up her law practice first. He said that they would look at buying a house somewhere in the area within a  year.

What does he think of Cedar Springs? “I think the city is on an upward trajectory. I’ve interviewed at places where people are losing jobs, and things are going downhill. I don’t see that here.” He said he’s excited about the “Heart of Cedar Springs” project at Main and Maple. “It will be great for the community. And I love libraries, and sculptures, and sculpture parks. If I can walk there on my lunch hour, get my mile in, it will be great,” he remarked.

His first priority, he said, is to get some city positions filled: both a full time clerk, and a finance director. A temporary clerk was hired to fill Linda Christiansen’s position until Womack can find someone, and the finance director will be leaving for another job in the near future.

Womack wants residents and business owners to know that he has an open door. “I’m happy to talk about problems. There may not always be an easy solution; we have to work within the personnel and financial constraints. But I’ll do what I can.” He said that the preferred way to reach him is through email: manager@cityofcedarsprings.org. But you can also reach him by phone at 696-1330, ext. 104.

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City to hold public hearing on planned unit development


 

By Judy Reed

A plan is in the works in Cedar Springs that might give the city a friendlier image when working with developers and business owners.

Business owners and residents in the downtown Cedar Springs area should have received a letter in the mail from the City of Cedar Springs about a public hearing on June 15 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, regarding the creation of a Planned Unit Development Overlay District (PUD) for downtown Cedar Springs. The PUD District will cover Main Street from 17 Mile to Maple Street, and one block east and west of Main Street.

Included in the letter was an explanation about the PUD and design guidelines.

According to City Manager Thad Taylor, the bottom line is that it would give the Planning Commission more flexibility in design standards when working with developers and business owners.

He said that in many cases, if a developer’s design doesn’t meet the specifications allowed under the ordinances, and the Planning Commission denies their request, they have to go before the zoning board of appeals. With the PUD, applicants needing dimensional variances for design issues like setbacks, façade materials, signs, etc., will not have to make the application to the ZBA. They would be able to submit waivers to the Planning Commission as part of the site plan review under the design elements of the project.

“If we are looking to be creative and work with the developers, to get what they want and what we want in the downtown business district, we need to be able to be flexible,” explained Taylor. “It’s the city’s approach that we want to work positively with developers.”

He gave one example as that of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company. “They had something that looked like flags, which our ordinance doesn’t allow. But their design looked fabulous, and the Planning Commission really struggled with that. In the end, they decided that they weren’t really flags.”

The PUD will provide additional guidance to prospective developers, businesses and property owners regarding the Planning Commission’s vision for the future. They will have a preliminary PUD plan, and a set of Downtown Design Guidelines. The goal is to maintain the traditional appearance of the downtown, with buildings setback at the sidewalk, and parking to the rear and on-street. The guidelines will not be strict rules, but a framework that the Planning Commission can use to make decisions.

To read more about the PUD and get a copy of the guidelines, go to http://www.cityofcedarsprings.org/2015/05/28/june-15-planning-commission-meeting/ and click on the links within the announcement.

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Subscribe to city alerts, surveys via email


 

Do you want to know about important events happening in Cedar Springs? Would you like to give feedback to the city on future surveys? Or receive immediate alerts about things that may affect you?

If you would like to be included in these community alerts and surveys by email, you can subscribe by picking up a form at City Hall, or by emailing City Manager Thad Taylor at manager@cityofcedarsprings.org. You will need to include your name, address and email address. The alerts and surveys will only be sent to you by email, not regular mail.

If you have any questions, call City Hall at 696-1330.

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To the Cedar Springs City Council and its Tax Payers:


 

I have held back my thoughts for a couple of years, but recent events do not allow me to do so any longer.

Just when several of us, and what I truly believe to be a majority of the tax payers, were excited that we had a leader with innovative business ideas, as well as a goal of making the city friendlier, a majority of the council voted him out of office in what I would call a very unprofessional manner. I know Mr. Truesdale had some very big, aggressive, modern, and forward-thinking ideas that quite possibly the council was not ready for yet, but in my opinion, it is past time for big ideas for this city. He may have made some mistakes, but who doesn’t? I, personally, like big goals. I look at it if from the point of view that if you only make it half-way to your goal, you still got somewhere! But why should I be surprised when this is the same group that says you cannot run the city like a business? I find this statement ridiculous and cannot believe such a thing is said. Rather, if it’s a school, city, county or any organization, it must be run like a business and get the most out of every dollar you possibly can. Please remember in your thinking, you do serve the taxpayers. The task of the council should be about what is best for the citizen not about which side one is on or about wins or losses.

It also does not hurt to be friendly instead of arrogant. Some of the city employees are great, but it seems as you get up the ladder it ends. City Hall should be a friendly place to go, not confrontational. After all, you are working for the citizens of the community!

I know some of the council members will say I have no vote or voice, as I do not live in the city, and yes, I cannot vote but I do feel the $468,000 I have paid in property taxes to the city in the last ten years does give me a say! I pay what I consider a lot of property tax without any city services: no water, sewer, leaf pick-up or road maintenance, as our property is on a county road but in the city limits.

I have never met the new city manager who has been here over a year. If I was a council member, I would want him out meeting with the tax payers, seeing if they had any needs, complaints, and maybe even new ideas. The last couple city managers at least stopped at our place of business when they first came to town.

Our company does a lot of municipal work for several cities throughout West Michigan and I can assure you, our city is very backwards and unfriendly. I truly feel we are a joke to all of West Michigan, not just Kent County. In the construction industry, we are known to be a very unfriendly city to try and build anything for and/or with.

I remember when my uncle (Mike Holton) and I donated the heating and air-conditioning to the Kent Theater, I checked to see if we could get the city fees waived. “Oh absolutely not,” as that would set a dangerous precedent. A few months later, we donated the plumbing for a shower building at the Kent County fairgrounds in Lowell. The city waived the fees and asked us if there was anything else they could do; they even thanked us and they weren’t even the owners of the building!

I have watched this city squander away so many things in the past, one being when the new Meijer store was being built. Meijer offered to pay the entire cost to run a water main big enough for their store as well as for future use under the expressway. This included all engineering, fees, permits, fire hydrants and related items at a cost close to one million dollars, and all at no cost to the city. As the individual from the West Michigan Metro Council tried to explain to both the city and the township, he encouraged them to take this gift as this is something the two of them wouldn’t be able to afford to do together in the next 10 to 15 years.  It was still turned down. In talking to Meilogo. This is my opinion, but I feel this is such an embarrassment to all of the residents in northern Kent County. What a joke that never should have happened. The attorney fees and time that was wasted on this is totally ridiculous! I am old-school and just a plain plumber, but I feel both sides should be tarred and feathered for their actions. Some sensible people from both sides need to get involved and get this issued solved. We do not need a new logo. I truly believe the Red Flannel logo needs to be returned to the people who really own it—the citizens of Cedar Springs and surrounding area. It has been our logo for as long as I can remember.

It’s past time to return the community back to the people that pay the taxes instead of a few people, who in my opinion, are trying to feed their huge egos and it appears have no common or business sense.

In all honesty, I feel badly that I have to write a letter of this nature. I grew up in this town, graduated from the school system, I’ve ran my business here, Northwest Kent Mechanical Co., for 25 years, and my mother lives here. My dad was fire chief for several years, he was on the council for 15 years, and served as its’ mayor for 7 years. This is a city which I truly cared for in my past, care for in my present, but more importantly for the future.

I truly hope this council can go forward in a more professional manner, but I am not convinced it can.

Thank you for taking the time to allow me to share my concerns and frustrations.

Dale Larson

 

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Congratulations to the new mayor


Congratulations to our new Mayor, Mark Fankhauser, for winning the mayor’s seat, and a big thank you to that person who spilled the beans several days before election night that I would not be returned to serve you, the good people of Cedar Springs. I have been asked not to write and inform you any longer. I will honor that request, but let me tell you before I go, our City is not broke, and the $2,930 in fees invoiced to the Red Flannel Festival for 2013, is not the big picture.

I have a copy of those “severe” cuts that were made a few years ago when our revenues dried up. One of them was using two-ply rather than four-ply toilet tissue at City Hall. You poor people, it made me want to cry. When I was a kid growing up on West Muskegon Street, we had the luxury of going from corn cobs to the pages from a Sears and Roebuck Catalog. Those were the good days, as my Grandpa Eldred was also a successful businessman.

Thank you for your prayers and support. 

See you, Bob Truesdale

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From the Mayor’s Desk


By Bob Truesdale

 

Yesterday, on my way to church, we drove past a home on 5th Street, where a family was parking their second car on the grass, just off their single gravel driveway, leading to a one-stall garage. It has been that way since I was a kid.

But, it brought to memory, a former city manager, who rode with a uniformed police officer, in a marked police car, targeting these families, who were violating some type of a city code—families who were already struggling in our poor economy. We can only hope and pray these Gestapo tactics are now behind us.

I heard a present member of our planning commission say, “I liked it the way it was in the past,” which I took to mean he felt we had too many codes and it was not our business to regulate everything people do.

I agree with you. 2014 can be a year of healing. As for me, I can never have too many friends, as we move forward. Please join us at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday) for our annual City Council meeting at City Hall. Some exciting projects are being proposed.

Humbly, your friend,

 the mayor

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From the Mayor’s Desk


Mayor Bob Truesdale

Mayor Bob Truesdale

By Bob Truesdale

 

Wow! Election Day was exciting. I saw many of our older citizens hobble in and out of City Hall to vote. They remember the good old days when our city was a thriving community.

A big thank you to everyone that put forth the effort to vote the new faces to city council. It was a tough call, but you made it happen.

Congratulations to Daniel Clark and Jerry Hall. I look forward to working with each of you in years to come.

And to Pam Conley and Mark Laws, you fought a good fight, and don’t give up. Our city needs someone like you to form a “Concerned Citizens Coalition,” with a representative of the group at every planning and council meeting. If you, the taxpayers of our city will get involved, I promise you an all new Cedar Springs in 2014. With God’s help, watch us make the changes you have been asking for.

 

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