Commercial Rehabilitation District created for Hagar KOA upgrades
By Jon Bisnett The March 12 monthly meeting of the Hagar Township Board resulted in another sign an economic uptick for Hagar in the form of unanimous approval for the establishment of a Commercial Rehabilitation District for the parcels otherwise known as the KOA Campground. During the public hearing Shane Kissack of the Cornerstone Alliance spoke on behalf of campground owner Mark Lemoine to address any questions. The Commercial Rehabilitation District will enable Lemoine to come before the board to seek a Commercial Rehabilitation Exemption Certificate. Once the district is established, the exemption certificate is not automatic. Rather it allows the property owner to seek a freeze on property taxes for a period of up to 10 years. With this initial approval in hand Lemoine will now detail his improvement plan and secure the required permits. The KOA is Hagar’s only franchised campground located literally across the street from the new kayak launch slated to be built this summer. A second public hearing will accompany the assumed tax abatement request. In 2017 the Cornerstone Alliance served to initiate projects with a total economic impact of over $100 million in Berrien County, creating more than 100 new jobs and launching 22 small businesses. In recent years they have been instrumental in securing similar tax advantaged arrangements for the expansion of several Hagar Township manufacturers including, Monte Packaging, SPI, and Coloma Frozen Foods. Cornerstone is also actively marketing the idled APL Logistics facility. Sheriff’s Report Deputy VanKampen visited to report on January activity in the Township. A total of 53 complaints were worked in Hagar. The report showed eight traffic tickets issued and just five arrests during the month. Also noted was a suicide, obscenity, family abuse and a sex offense. VanKampen was unable to provide any further details.
Supervisor’s Report Supervisor DiMaggio began by presenting a budget report summary which highlighted five accomplishments for 2017 regarding: An Equity Balance of $3.3 million with the Township remaining debt-free. No tax increase is warranted. Improvements to local roads bringing the past six years total investment to $429,623 from General Fund covering over 35 miles of improvements. 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. Success of a $300,000 grant from the DNR Trust Fund for development of a kayak launch on the Paw Paw River, The North Berrien Fire Rescue Department completed acquisition of a new tanker truck in the amount of $325,000. The Township has met the Michigan Department of Treasury mandate for 20% of all parcels field inspected by the local Assessor’s Office.
2018 Budget Highlights from the new 2018 Township Budget in the amount of $719,500 include: Riverside Kayak Park with all local funds coming from the DDA; no General Fund taxpayer dollars will be expensed on the new park. DDA will be revisiting Hampton Road project. Hagar Park improvements include resealing the parking lot and concrete work. Momany Park and Children’s Park will include new grills, swing pads, fencing and gravel at the Momany site. Lakeshore Cemetery will get new fencing. The Township Hall will get exterior tuck pointing, new phone system, electronic entry and seal the floor. Just short of seven miles of road work is planned as outlined at the prior meeting. An additional 20% of parcels will be field inspected by the Assessor’s Office. DiMaggio also reported the Feb. 21 meeting with Berrien County Road Department (BCRD) head Jason Latham went very well and was looking forward to proceeding on area road work as soon as weather permits.
Clerk’s Report Clerk Sarah Rodriguez reported on activity with Pride Care Ambulance with 17 calls for the month of February averaging 11.62 response times. Rodriguez also presented a quote for office furniture from Doubleday Office Supply in the amount of $6,331.77 which was unanimously approved.
Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Marlene Davis reported February expenses in the amount of $80,651.51 with notable items being over $50,000 in road maintenance expenses to the BCRD. North Berrien Fire Rescue Report Supervisor DiMaggio reported North Berrien Fire Rescue had 15 calls in the month of February. The Department’s 2018 budget is complete at $570,000. DiMaggio pointed out that the three municipalities pay a pro-rated share based on the service area. Hagar is 46%, while Coloma Charter Township pays 46% and the City of Coloma contributes just 16%.
Parks Department Parks Director Beth Raiser reports park operations are getting ready for the new season with plans to reseal the Hagar Park lot and add concrete pads for picnic tables and the stairs. Raiser is still exploring installation of permanent vault toilets for Hagar Park. Building Inspector Butch Kelly reported four new permits for a $43,500 remodel project. Kelly says he has heard welcome news of at least two new lake homes planned to be build in 2018. Kelley is ready to begin executing legal action against non-complying property owners. Be it debris, litter or outright condemnation, his office will again champion the ongoing campaign to enforce ordinances and to clean up the Township.
New business President Scott Young of the North Berrien Historical Society Board of Directors visited to ask the board to place a .25 mil question on the August ballot. Following a round of endorsements by several of the individual board members, the measure passed unanimously.
Public comment Water woes of a Riverside Road property owner prompted Supervisor DiMaggio to suggest the owner petition the Drain Commissioner for a determination hearing. DiMaggio was quick to point out the roads and drains within the Township are not owned by the Township, but by Berrien County. In that light the Township is legally restricted as to how it may expend funds, particularly in issues affecting private property. DiMaggio did pledge his assistance to help bring together the proper parties to address the property owners concerns. 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, April 9, 2018.