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Tag Archive | "city of cedar springs"

City votes to permit marijuana businesses 6-1


By Judy Reed

After a seventh-month long process of community forums and public input that began in November 2019, the City of Cedar Springs voted last Thursday evening, June 11, to allow the licensing and operation of adult recreational marijuana businesses within its city limits.

The vote was 6-1, with Councilman Jerry Gross Sr. dissenting.

When the statewide vote passed in the fall of 2018 to allow recreational marijuana use and sales, Cedar Springs initially opted out early on, saying they would consider it once the state came up with a set a guidelines. Once the state had guidelines in place, the City then brought it back up for consideration. 

The City will allow an unlimited number of Growers, Excess Growers, Processors, Microbusinesses, Retailers and Safety Compliance Facilities, subject to certain zoning requirements, Planning Commission approval and a licensing fee.

“The City is excited to work with the marihuana industry to bring high-quality jobs to Cedar Springs while simultaneously providing citizens with access to products with both medical and recreational uses” said City Manager Mike Womack. “The City Council and Planning Commission put a lot of work into developing these ordinances that reflect the will of the 59 percent of Cedar Springs voters that voted in favor of IL 1 of 2018.”

All proposed marihuana businesses are considered Special Land Uses and must receive approval for that use by the Planning Commission.

Marihuana businesses that meet the State’s pre-qualification requirements will be able to submit site plan applications and City marihuana license application materials by July 16 for the August 11 Planning Commission meeting.

The City is requiring a 1000-foot separation from all pre-existing K-12 schools, measured from the property line for all marijuana businesses. There will be no marijuana business permitted on Main St. south of Ash St nor on Muskegon east of the White Pine Trail. 

No marijuana business may share a parcel with any residential use (no apartments upstairs), and they may not share a property line with a single-family residential use.

For a quick guide summary on the regulations, go to https://cityofcedarsprings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/MJ-Quick-Guide.pdf.

Prospective businesses and interested persons can find more information related to the City’s ordinances at www.cityofcedarsprings.org. Additional questions related to the City’s marihuana ordinances can be directed to City Manager Mike Womack at manager@cityofcedarsprings.org.

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City breaks ground on new fire station


City of Cedar Springs welcomes construction of new community asset

Representatives from the City of Cedar Springs, the Cedar Springs Fire Department, Orion Construction and others broke ground last week on the new fire station. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It’s been a long time coming, but the City of Cedar Springs and Orion Construction finally broke ground last week on a new fire station in downtown Cedar Springs. 

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at 38 N 2nd St last Thursday, May 21. The fire station will be built on the site that once housed the old library on the corner of Cherry and 2nd, and the old Community building, on the corner of Elm and Cherry. Both have been torn down.

“Today we put shovels in the earth to break ground on a new fire station that will be a much needed tool in the arsenal of our firefighters to be utilized in protecting both the hearts and homes of the people of Cedar Springs,” said Mayor Pro Tem Pam Conley, prior to the groundbreaking. “As our firefighters are the people running into the buildings, the rest of us are running out. We are proud of a community that understands the need for proper facility to provide this heartfelt service to the citizens.”

The new fire station will provide added space and equipment necessary to service a growing Cedar Springs population. The Cedar Springs Fire Department serves a 16 square mile area, including the City of Cedar Springs and parts of Nelson Township, and approximately 5,600 residents. The Cedar Springs Fire Department is a fully volunteer/paid on-call fire department providing fire suppression, emergency medical services, rescue and other services. The department is comprised of 20 firefighters and medical first responders.

What will it cost?

The Cedar Springs City Council approved placing a proposal for the new fire station on the ballot for the   November 2018 election. The proposal passed and provided the necessary financing through a millage and tax bond not to exceed $3,115,000, which will pay for site improvements, build design and construction, as well as additional equipment, vehicles and other related expenses for the fire department.

“The voters have entrusted the city to use their money wisely to build a new fire station that will propel us into the future. The current fire station has been in place for 40 years at this point, and we’re looking to build a facility that will last for the next 40-plus years,” said City Manager Mike Womack. “With any project we undertake here in the city, we are very cognizant of the costs involved. We thank the citizens for entrusting us with their money and we will use it to the best of our ability. Not only is Orion Construction providing us the best bang for our buck, but we were also able to secure an incredibly low interest rate on the bond issuance that is going to save a ton on interest as well.”

According to Womack, citizens approved a 15-year option with an estimated $4,013,850 payback on the $3,115,000 loan. But since the interest rate was only 1.35 percent, they now only expect to have to pay back $3,454,816. 

“That is a savings of $559,034 over the original 15-year projection,” Womack told the Post. “That accounts for an estimated $37,000 reduction in each yearly payment that the City has to make on the bond payback.  For the citizens, it translates into a reduction from the original estimated 3.4 mills tax increase that was approved by voters down to only about 2.59 mills in the first year (it’s technically a variable rate but we don’t expect it to change much from year to year). With all of the economic development going on in the City, that number could go down even more as more businesses come to town.” 

“I am happy that we waited until the optimal time to issue to the bond because even though the project was a little delayed in starting, it will strongly benefit the taxpayers in the long run,” he added.

A rendering of the new fire station. Photo courtesy of Orion Construction, developed and provided to Orion by Hubbell, Roth & ClarkInc.

What will the new fire station have?

The new 10,000 square foot fire station will be triple the size of the existing facility, providing much-needed space for meeting, training, and equipment storage. It will also be compliant with new federal standards and local code.

“We have equipment stored off site that we’ll be able to bring back on-site, and we’ll have a meeting room big enough to hold meetings without having to pull trucks out of the apparatus bays,” said Cedar Springs Fire Chief, Marty Fraser. “The new station will give us room to expand with new and updated equipment to serve the community as the need grows in the future. It will be a great asset to the community and something we can all be proud of.”

The new fire station features a nearly 7,000 square foot pre-engineered metal building for the apparatus area with four vehicle bays for fire engines, as well as storage areas for cleaning and storing gear, as well as a hose tower.  Directly adjacent to the apparatus bays is a 3,300 square foot office area with a 60-person meeting room, full kitchen, laundry room, office and storage areas, two full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms.

“We’re proud to be a partner with the Cedar Springs community and work with them to create a new home for the Cedar Springs Fire Department,” said Roger Rehkopf, President of Orion Construction. “The new facility will provide necessary updates and adequate room and resources for the firefighters to best serve their community and keep them safe.”

Orion Construction is serving as the general contractor. Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. is providing all architectural and engineering services, construction engineering, and oversight of the project.

Construction is estimated to begin in the next couple of weeks and be complete by April or May of 2021.

Construction Engineering and Oversight of the project

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Corona virus in Michigan: where we stand as of Wednesday, March 18


These empty shelves at the Cedar Springs Meijer are typical of what grocery stores are experiencing across the state due to shoppers stocking up in case of a total shutdown.

Things changed fast and furiously in Michigan from Friday, March 13 to Monday, March 16. And they continued to change quickly this week.

Michigan went from 12 cases of confirmed COVID-19 on Friday to 53 on Monday. As of Wednesday, there were 80, with five of those cases in Kent County and one in Montcalm.

On Friday, Governor Whitmer announced the closing of all Michigan schools for three weeks, from March 16 to April 5. Some districts then have spring break, bringing it to a total of four weeks. The Post asked Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Scott Smith if the teachers were sending home work for students.

“While we have pushed pause on formal instruction, we are providing families with resources they can use to continue to engage in the learning process,” he explained. “We recognize that parents and caregivers are not teachers. It would not be reasonable to expect that formal instruction can continue during this statewide suspension.”

The school (along with many in Kent County) is also offering free meal pickup and in some cases delivery for students. See page 2 for more info.

Meanwhile, people began raiding the grocery stores for food and supplies to hold them over in case of a total shutdown or quarantine. Things like milk, meat, hand sanitizer and toilet paper have been in short supply due to people buying extreme quantities.

The Kent County Health Department issued an emergency order on Sunday, March 15, 2020, reducing occupancy loads – or limits – for all licensed food service establishments, entertainment venues and physical fitness centers in Kent County by 50 percent, which went into effect Monday at 10 a.m.

But that quickly changed when on Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an order to take effect at 3 p.m. temporarily shutting down restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, bars, taverns, brewpubs, distilleries, clubs, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, spas, and casinos. This order does not restrict a place of business from offering food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. Restaurants may allow five people inside at a time to pick-up orders, so long as they stay six feet apart from each other. This order remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. on March 30, 2020.

Many restaurants are offering take out or delivery. Contact them or visit their Facebook page to see what options they are offering and help them stay afloat.

The state of Michigan also came out this week with some options on relief for those out of work due to the COVID-19 virus (see page 7) and some resources to support small businesses during this time (see our business pages on pages 14-15)

Also, the CDC issued new guidelines Sunday night advising against gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks. “We support the CDC in this recommendation, and we encourage individuals to minimize the size of public gatherings,” said Dr. Adam London, Chief Health Officer with the Kent County Health Department.

The Governor then signed an executive order this week limiting gatherings to 50 people or less.

Many businesses and municipalities are closing to the general public or restricting their available hours. The City of Cedar Springs is closed to the general public as of Tuesday, but can still be reached by phone and email. Face to face meetings will be by appointment only. 

The Post is also closed to the general public, but can be reached by phone and email. We also have a mailbox outside our front door for submissions.

We suggest you contact any business before visiting to see whether they have open business hours.

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Cedar Springs City Hall closed to general public


The City of Cedar Springs takes very seriously the dangers posed by the novel COVID-19 virus and the severe acute respiratory health problems that it can cause. Many persons exposed to the virus will develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue and shortness of breath. More serious infections, especially in vulnerable patient groups, may suffer pneumonia, organ failure and death. Vulnerable patient groups include persons aged 60 and older and persons with underlying health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, COPD and cancer.

The current best practices to prevent infection or spreading the disease are to frequently wash your hands, avoid touching your face, use of facemasks by those already sick and self-quarantine/social distancing away from other people.

As many of you already know, the Governor has ordered all schools closed until at least April 6th and many bars, restaurants, theaters and other locations of public congregation are likely to close or limit public access in the near future. This unprecedented situation requires a strong and aggressive response in order to maintain the public health and the City encourages all persons and organizations to take all necessary precautions for the well-being of the public, employees and emergency personnel.

Right now, the problem seems small, avoidable and a world away, however, COVID-19 has infected at least 137,000 persons and killed over 5,000 worldwide. Those numbers will absolutely go up, please take this seriously. Everything that is being done right now might appear alarmist and overblown but after a pandemic takes hold, nothing done afterwards will seem adequate.

At this time, the Cedar Springs City Hall will be closed to the public on a week to week basis, starting Tuesday March 17, as we actively monitor the situation. City employees will continue to work at City Hall and throughout the community and will address citizen concerns by phone, e-mail and by appointment as may be necessary. Some public meetings may be canceled or postponed until it is safe to hold them. Any public meetings that are held will be done so according to all laws, including the Open Meetings Act. However, the City encourages any persons showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who might have been in contact with the disease to avoid all public gatherings, including City meetings.

For additional resources regarding COVID-19 and how to respond to it please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kent County Health Department for the most up to date information:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.accesskent.com/Health/coronavirus.htm

If you have any questions, thoughts or concerns about the City’s COVID-19 response please contact the City Manager by phone or e-mail.

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City to hold public forum on marijuana businesses


A person weighing out marijuana. Photo by Get Budding on Unsplash.

November 15 5:30-6:30 p.m. at CS Public Library

The City of Cedar Springs wants to hear what citizens have to say about whether to allow marijuana businesses in the city, and if they do, what type of businesses they would like to see. Citizens can give their input at a public forum/conversation in the Cedar Springs Public Library’s community room Friday, November 15, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“As I stated following the City’s decision to opt-out in November 2018, the City Council is reexamining their position on allowing marijuana businesses now that the State of Michigan has released their rules governing the businesses,” explained Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack.

The Village of Sand Lake rescinded their ordinance on medical marijuana earlier this week, and approved an ordinance allowing up to two marijuana dispensaries in the village. 

“After much discussion, research and deliberation, the Village passed a new ordinance allowing a dispensary,” explained Sand Lake Village President Tracy Quinlan. “We will allow up to two dispensaries that need to be part of a franchise.”

Muskegon also passed an ordinance allowing dispensaries, microbusinesses, and special pot events earlier this month.

Grand Rapids passed an ordinance allowing them earlier this year.

The purpose of the public forum is to discuss the recreational marijuana law and also ask for public input on some of the questions that the City Council members are considering. Womack said the questions he will be asking for the public’s input on include:

1. What types of recreational marijuana businesses/licenses are citizens interested in having in the City? Types include: Marijuana grower, marijuana processor, marijuana secure transporter, marijuana retailer, marijuana safety compliance, marijuana microbusiness, temporary marijuana event, marijuana consumption establishment.

2. Where in the city are citizens interested in seeing marijuana businesses? B-2 Central Business District (Main Street from Muskegon to Maple St.); B-3 Highway business district (Main Street from Maple to 18 Mile Rd); HC Highway commercial (Muskegon from Advanced Auto to US131 and White Creek Ave from Save-A-Lot to White Creek Lumber); I-1 Industrial.

3. How many marijuana businesses should the city allow to open? The city can allow any number between zero and unlimited for each type of business. (See number 1 for types of businesses.)

4. What reasonable (not “Unreasonably Impracticable”) restrictions should the City consider requiring of marijuana businesses in the City? 

a. 1000 feet from schools is standard but can be increased or decreased

b. Separation between different marijuana businesses?

c. Prohibit use of the marijuana leaf symbol in signage

d. etc.

Womack said depending on how the forum goes, he may schedule another public forum in December as well.  

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Some city streets to be repaved


Paving to take place October 24-26

By Judy Reed

At least three streets in the City of Cedar Springs will be repaved by the end of the month.

According to City Manager Mike Womack, the city has allotted $200,000 toward road paving, and currently has plans to do S. First Street between E. Cherry and E. Muskegon Street; East Maple Street between N. First and N. Park St.; and Ann St. between E. Beech and E. Muskegon St. They may also have enough money to do one block of S. Second Street between Church St. and W. Muskegon St.

The plan is to “mill and fill.” They will scrape off the old asphalt and put down new. “It’s a quick process. Maybe one day with a huge machine to scrape, and maybe another day or half a day to pave,” said Womack. He added that they would try to minimize the impact on anyone living on the road they are working on.

Womack explained that the decision on which roads to pave was made by the City Engineer, based on several factors, including what kind of shape the roads are in, how traffic travels the road, and how to get the most repairs in with the money they have.

Paving is set to take place between October 24-26.

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Fire Safety


City Hall Corner |
By Mike Womack, Cedar Springs City Manager

Monday’s Red Flag Fire Warning from the National Weather Service and our subsequent burn ban in the City are stark reminders that burning and campfires can be dangerous if safe fire practices are not observed. 

The City of Cedar Springs allows fire and open flames to be used outdoors for things like cooking, heating and entertainment. The City does have some requirements such as the fire must be 25 feet from a structure on a neighbor’s property and at least 8 feet from any part of a structure on your property. Fires may be up to 9 square feet and may only burn natural gas/propane, charcoal or clean natural wood not garbage, glue, plastic or yard waste. Fire-pits must be in a device designed to be enclosed with a cover that can be securely fastened like a spark screen. All fires shall be monitored by an adult with ready access to a hose or fire extinguisher and only between hours of 7 a.m. and 11:59 p.m.  

For the complete fire safety rules, or if you have any fire safety related question, please check out the Fire Department page on the City of Cedar Springs website or you can call the fire department at 616-696-1221. If you are requesting a burn permit, please call a few days ahead of time.  

In 2018, the fire department responded to 22 house or building fires, 18 grass or rubbish fires, and 31 fire alarms. Following the fire safety rules can reduce those response numbers where people and property are put in danger.

Violations of the City’s fire ordinances may result in a warning, extinguishment of the fire, municipal fines, cost recovery, injunctive relief or other remedies.

The Fire Department still has free smoke detectors available for senior citizens and some low-income residents. Please call to see if you are eligible.


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City installs drive up payment box


The Cedar Springs DPW has placed a drive up payment drop off box on the side of City Hall for anyone who would like to drop off a payment without leaving their car. 

Residents can also still use the payment slot near the front door if they like.

City Manager Mike Womack said they would see how well the public receives it before determining whether to keep it out there or where its final location should be. 

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City to vote on West Street MDOT grant


By Judy Reed

The City of Cedar Springs is holding its annual budget workshop Thursday, March 21, at 6 p.m. at City Hall, and will also vote on resolution of support connected to a potential MDOT grant for the West Street extension project.

According to City Manager Mike Womack, the West Street extension project is to open about 55 acres of City property for a business park development. “The project would extend West Street about 600 feet south from where it currently becomes dirt road and ends in a cul de sac at that point.  The cul de sac is situated to give access to the greatest number of parcels for later on when the property is sold off to developers.” 

Womack said that the overall project cost is approximately $1.6 million dollars. “We expect 60 percent of that amount to be paid for with grant money. The remaining 40 percent is expected to be paid for by selling off the land to developers. Under current market rates we should be able to at minimum break even on this project. The City benefits not only from the jobs that a business park would bring in but also the property taxes that would be paid on those parcels after they are developed,” he explained.

The plan originally was to extend the road all the way to 16 Mile Rd, but Womack said it would’ve been substantially more expensive ($4 million-plus), with little benefit. 

The grant from the MDOT program is called TEDF Category B and must be submitted prior to April 5th to be eligible. The grant application requires that the City Council approve a Resolution of Support for the application, which states that the City is committed to the funding and long term maintenance of the project after it is built. Since the Regular Council meeting isn’t until after April 5, Womack will ask the Council to approve the Resolution at the budget meeting on March 21.  

“If we are approved for this grant, it would cover approximately $96,000 of the West Street road extension when we get that project under way,” he explained.

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Storm damage brush dropoff


As a result of the recent winter storms, many residents in the City of Cedar Springs have downed limbs and other brush to get rid of. The Cedar Springs DPW is going to host a storm damage brush dropoff at Morley Park on Friday,February 15, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday, February 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. City trucks will not be driving around picking up brush and they will only accept storm damage brush from city citizens. They will ask for proof of residency.  

The spring brush pickup will occur in late April.

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