03-01-2018 Cornerstone Alliance promotes further commercial growth for Hagar Township; Supervisor Di

Cornerstone Alliance promotes further commercial growth for Hagar Township; Supervisor DiMaggio announces tentative list of proposed road projects

By Jon Bisnett The February 12 meeting began as Hagar Township Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio shared a communication that arrived from the Cornerstone Alliance acting on behalf of KOA Campground owner Mark Lemoine seeking development of a Commercial Rehabilitation District. This would enable Lemoine to then seek a Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate facilitating his proposed expansion of upgrades to Hagar’s only franchised campground. The campground is located across the street from the new kayak launch slated to begin construction soon. The next step in the process is to hold a public hearing. Once the district is established, the exemption certificate is not automatic. Rather it allows the property to seek tax abatement on taxes generated from the new investment for a period of up to 10 years.

Sheriff’s Report Deputy VanKampen visited to report on December activity in the Township. A total of 59 complaints were worked ranging from disorderly conducted to ATM fraud. While VanKampen had no formal recommendation or warning of any specific trends in illegal activity as of late, the report showed five traffic tickets issued and one arrest during the month.

Supervisor’s Report Supervisor DiMaggio began by presenting a tentative list of proposed road projects for 2018 following his recent meeting with the Berrien County Road Commission. The proposed projects to include: Coloma Road – M-63 to Riverside; Pier – Coloma to Lynch; Riverside Rd. – Bundy to Momany Park; Evergreen – M-63 to Coloma; Arbor Ave. – Pier to Eastern; Evanston – M-63 to Van Buren; Ash – Riverside to end; Eaman – M-63 to Zoschke; Colonial – Paw Paw Ave. to end; plus two chloride applications to gravel roads, with a projected expenditure on the part of the Township at $109,300 with another $122,500 paid by Berrien County to service just under eight miles of Township roadways. Dating back to 2012, the proposed work would bring the combined Township and County effort to a total of over $1 million of maintenance and improvements to local roads over the 6-year period. Treasurer Marlene Davis expressed her displeasure charging, “In the past we always had a meeting with the BCRC where we all could have a part in the decision, but it looks like you’ve already decided what you’re going to do.” DiMaggio reiterated that this is only a tentative list, subject to change and that if the board wanted a meeting with BCRC head Jason Latham he’d be glad to schedule it. It was ultimately decided that such a meeting would be set up for February 21. Board of Review appeal hearing dates are Tuesday, March 13 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and again on Wednesday the 14th from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Those who wish to file an appeal may choose to schedule an appointment if so desired. DiMaggio also reminded residents of the Annual Township Meeting being combined with the Annual Budget Hearing on Saturday March 10 at 9:00 a.m. He further requested residents and department heads to forward their requests and suggestions for any and all needs or projects that should be considered for the 2018 budget. DiMaggio also made note that the new Dollar General store on M-63 is open and encouraged residents to visit the store he described as a great addition to the community. He concluded his report in noting the fiscal 2017 budget was in great shape and required only a few amendments to close out the year. A budget report distributed at the meeting showed a surplus of just under $150,000 year to date. Clerk’s Report Clerk Sarah Rodriguez reported on activity with Pride Care Ambulance with 24 calls for the month of January averaging a 12.22 response time. Nine Priority I calls had the average response time of 10:43 minutes, 15 Priority II calls clocked an average time of 13:21 minutes. The report further noted three calls delayed due to treacherous road conditions at the time of dispatch. Rodriguez also informed residents that due to a Coloma Schools’ Operating Millage on the ballot a Township election will be held on May 8. Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Marlene Davis reported January expenses in the amount of $31,162.77 with nothing out of the ordinary. Davis reminded 2017 Winter Taxes were due February 15, but an interest-free no penalty reprieve has been extended in the past until the final day of the month, February 28.

North Berrien Joint Fire Report Supervisor DiMaggio reported NBJFD had 18 calls in the month of January with structure fires numbering three in Hagar Township, three in Coloma Charter Township and two in the City of Coloma. The department sold the recently replaced old tanker truck for $54,000 which will go towards funding the purchase of a replacement rescue vehicle planned for next year. The 2018 fire budget is nearing completion and will be ready for the March meeting.

Parks Department Parks Director Beth Raiser reports park operations closed-down. A “Beach Closed” is in place at Hagar Park closing the non-existent beach due to high lake levels. Roadside Park is still technically open and accessible. Raiser had no report on a prior request from Supervisor DiMaggio to explore installation of permanent vault toilets for Hagar Park.

Building Inspector Butch Kelly reported just one new permit for a $305,000 remodel project. Kelly noted totals for 2017 as $809,000 in commercial construction and just $828,000 residential permit work with zero new home construction. Kelley made it very clear that come March 1 notices are going out to non-complying property owners. Be it debris, litter or outright condemnation, his office will stay the course with the ongoing campaign to enforce ordinances and to clean up the township.

Old business DiMaggio reported that the DDA has met and approved the hiring of a consultant, pending actual receipt of the state grant, to spearhead the kayak launch project. Again he reiterated that 100% of the funding for the project will come from the grant or the DDA which currently carries a balance of roughly $700,000. No township monies will be expensed to the project. Referencing ongoing litigation in the matter of the 2011 drowning at Hagar Park, DiMaggio stated that he and former Township Clerk Ian Haight will be giving depositions later this month.

New business Despite DiMaggio’s best attempts to explain the innocuous nature of proposed Commercial Rehabilitation District, Treasurer Marlene Davis commented at length as to her reservations to proceed with scheduling a formal hearing without more information. Regardless, the measure passed in a split decision 3-2 with Davis and Ulleg voting against. The hearing is scheduled for 7:15 on March 12. Having no other business DiMaggio then adjourned the board at 7:45 p.m. with the next regular monthly meeting of the Township Board to be held 7:00 p.m. Monday, March 12.