City of Hartford delays bid award for Huffman building demolition
By Jon Bisnett The opening of bids for the demolition of 1 East Main raised too many questions for commissioners at the January 22 business session to come to an agreement. Questions of what steps would be taken to insure asbestos abatement was conducted properly and how the contractor would address the integrity of the cantilevered stoplight in the adjacent sidewalk, along with question of street closer clouded any possible decision. With five bids ranging from $54,975 to $148,000, and only two of which attended the building walk-through conducted earlier in the month, Mayor Rick Hall brought discussion to a close saying, “We need to get on the phone, find out what’s what before we proceed.” Wastewater Treatment Plant Plant Operator Tom Strand was on hand as Tom Deneau of Wightman and Associates, accompanied by Chris Cowgill and Mary Nykamp, presented a plan of action to get the beleaguered WWTP running within specifications. The better part of three years has elapsed since the multi-million dollar renovation was completed with less than desired results in terms of plant performance. Nine violations have occurred over the most recent twelve month rolling average. Deneau suggests enlisting the assistance of a firm that is a true expert in the water treatment field to initially do a complete evaluation of the system and in a second phase either operate the plant or provide on-site training to achieve the proper results. With no clear statement as to who exactly would pay for the services it was informally agreed by the commission that Wightman should get a proposal from Infrastructure Alternatives and bring it back to the commission. The firm had been helpful with a similar issue in the city of Dowagiac and has worked with Wightman on other wastewater projects. Public Comment Doug Von Koenig introduced himself as the financial backer for the proposed Med-Leaf medical marijuana dispensary that his son Alex Von Koenig and partner Janel Napier had made application with the city. Von Koenig has secured a purchase arrangement for the former Mackinder Law Office located at 11 West Main. Doug Von Koenig went on to voice his concern over a letter received from the City Attorney just the prior Friday stating that the property was within the 500 foot exclusion zone to the church located south of Main Street, thus making it non-compliant with recently enacted city ordinance that permits medical marijuana related businesses within the city limits under specific guidelines of 1,000 feet from a school and 500 feet from a place of worship. Von Koenig, himself a member of the Lincoln Township Zoning Board of Appeals, stressed his intention to be a good neighbor in developing a family business in the city of Hartford, but had never received a clear answer as to what method of measurement would be used. Citing the city’s three downtown taverns located on the south side of Main Street he explained that Michigan Liquor Control measures from front door to front door along a street route. Applying that standard the proposed dispensary site clears the rule easily. City Manager Yemi Akinwale’s response was “We have always used the map,” referring to a plat map of the city. Thus measuring from the nearest property line, the letter from the City Attorney states the measurement at 392 feet and as such, non-compliant. Von Koenig reiterated his desire to simply work this out to protect his investment in the property and further stated that he had obtained and read the City of Hartford book of ordinances, cover to cover, twice; and nowhere in any written documentation is a formal standardized method as to how measurements pertaining to ordinances should be conducted. The collective opinion of the commissioners was to abide by their attorney’s recommendation. The application has been acted upon by Police, Fire, Building Inspector and now Legal. The Planning Commission will review the application at the February 12 meeting and make recommendation to the council. Communications Joint Annual City/ Township Fire Board Meeting, 7:00 p.m., February 21 at the Fire Station; March Board of Review will take place March 20, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. on the 21st. Reports & Minutes December departmental reports along with December 18 combined Workshop/ Business meeting and January 15 Workshop minutes were approved and archived. Ambulance Service The expected vote to approve a contract with Pride Care Ambulance did not occur despite prior commentary that Pride Care had met all conditions of the RFP. An issue over a fixed amount to be reimbursed to local first responders had not been give prior consideration and will be added to a revision of the contract now expected to be approved in February. Fire Board The Commissioners gave their formal unanimous approval for Commissioner Helen Sullivan to fill the Fire Board vacancy created by Immediate Past Mayor Ted Johnson’s resignation. Resolutions Unanimous approval was granted to: Resolution 2018-001 – Honoring retiring Van Buren Senior Services Director Jennifer Carver; Resolution 2018-002 Supporting .25 mill renewal of property tax funding for Van Buren Senior Services; Resolution 2018-003 Endorsing an additional .25 mill of property tax to fund Van Buren Senior Services. At the request of Commissioner Terry Tibbs, Mayor Hall took the Commissioners into closed session for what Tibbs described as a personal matter. Upon return from closed session Mayor Hall adjourned the meeting at 9:44 p.m. The council next meets for the monthly workshop on Monday, February 19.