BACK, BETTER THAN EVER! The Hartford Dollar General Store at 118 West Main is back open after being idled since May of 2018, the result of an arson fire that did serious damage to the structure and inventory. No one has ever been arrested for the crime and it is still under investigation. A $5,000 reward is still being offered for information about the fire. Following major reconstruction and a complete makeover, DG is back up and running with a fresh new look, and is currently accepting applications; hiring for both full and part-time positions. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)
Watervliet City Commissioners consider reducing allowable
size of outbuildings in residential areas by amending zoning
By Annette Christie Watervliet City Mayor Dave Brinker had an agenda addition put on the April 2, 2019 meeting agenda. Brinker wanted to discuss an amendment to the zoning ordinance with regards to the language on accessory structures. Prior to the meeting Brinker had worked with contracted Zoning Administrator Bob Lohr on the subject. Brinker said that he would like to see additional restrictions on the types of accessory structures that are allowed within the city limits. Among the changes being considered are a limitation on the height of 14’ and a maximum size of 1,000 sq. ft. The structures are limited in use to storage by the home owners and may not be used for any type of business, service or industry. Commissioner Jennifer Helms stated, “One thousand square feet is still pretty big,” but added, “My biggest thing was answered, no business use.” She commented that the urgency in getting the language updated is that there could be other residences that may want a larger structure and might try to push it through before the ordinance is changed.
Other topics were discussed such as adding that the structure has to have a stone or blacktopped driveway; making sure that a certain quality of materials are used to finish it which complements the area it is located in; and only one on a piece of property no matter what the size of the property. Citizen Rick Rasmussen told the Commission that he supports the changes to the ordinance. “We want it to remain in the appearance of a residential neighborhood,” Rasmussen said. City Manager Tyler Dotson said the action needed is to amend the definition of an accessory structure. “We need to protect the sanctity of our neighborhoods,” Dotson said. The subject was just a discussion item at this point and will look for passage of the changes in future meetings, including a public hearing that is required with a zoning amendment. Other business In other business the City Commission approved the equipment needed to outfit the new patrol car. Chief Tim Sutherland said that the major cost is mostly lights and other equipment that didn’t swap over. “We do this every time we buy a car. It is in the budget and was pre-approved,” Sutherland said. The City Commission approved the purchase of equipment in the amount of $4,242.50. The City Commission approved the re-appointment of three Downtown Development Authority members until July 1, 2022. Mayor Brinker brought the recommendation forward to re-appoint Rochelle Ulleg, Krista Krogel and Tom Gear, which passed unanimously.
Meeting dates under discussion Some discussion was held about an upcoming Committee of the Whole agenda for a meeting scheduled Monday, April 15, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. Dotson said he would like to talk about the budget process, budget amendments, and recreational marijuana. The City Commission changed their long-standing meeting schedule effective in February from the second and fourth Tuesdays. The second meeting is a workshop style meeting and is optional. At their January meeting the discussion was held about changing it to accommodate one city commissioner. Bill Whitney, who is also a firefighter with the Watervliet Fire Department, has a clear conflict with leaving the first meeting of the month on the second Tuesday. The fire department does its monthly training on that date. At that time, the motion was approved to change the meetings from the second and fourth (if needed) Tuesdays to the first and third (if needed) Tuesdays. Commissioner Duane Cobb asked why the second meeting of the month was not being held on the third Tuesday. Brinker responded that the Fire Board meeting is held on that night. By changing their meeting to the third Monday, they are held on the same night, and almost the same time as the Watervliet Township Board meetings.
City Manager report During the City Manager report, Dotson said that he would like to wait on the website restructure project until city leaders consider re-branding. He said he is working on the job description for the summer help and commented that the commission might see some new faces in the Police Department due to turnover. He commented that the staff has been very accepting with the changes being made to standard procedures due to the Asset Management Plan. Staff also received training from BS & A on their software. He noted that there are currently DDA and Planning Commission vacancies. He said he would like to do some quarterly advertising to help find the people that will be the right fit for the respective boards. Some discussion was held on the annual city-wide garage sale/spring cleanup. It was debated over whether to provide a dumpster for residents to use or giving dump passes to residents. The City Commission will re-visit this subject in the near future.
Sleep specialist to discuss new treatment for sleep apnea
Community members are invited to join board-certified sleep specialist, Dennis Thompson, MD, for a free educational seminar titled, “Get the Restful Night’s Sleep You’ve Been Missing.” The seminar will take place from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 18 at Baymont Inn and Suites, located at 1555 Phoenix Street in South Haven. During the seminar, Dr. Thompson will discuss new approaches to treating obstructive sleep apnea, including a breakthrough technology called upper airway stimulation. “If you find yourself waking in the morning feeling fatigued or going through your day restless and irritable, you may suffer from sleep apnea — a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep,” said Dr. Thompson. “This is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that if left untreated can result in other health complications such as high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.” Preregistration is encouraged; walk-ins are welcome. For more information, or to register, call (269) 927-5361 or visit www.lakelandent.com/sleepseminar.
New ORV state forest road maps now online
Off-road vehicle enthusiasts can ride more than 6,300 miles of state forest roads in the northern Lower Peninsula. That increased opportunity comes after changes approved by Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger at the February meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission and implemented by DNR forestry staff in the weeks since. Final maps detailing the 6,339.5 miles of northern Michigan state forest roads open to ORV use – as well as printable maps by county – now are available on the DNR website. To ensure maps for all state forest roads stay up to date, the DNR will evaluate road data in response to changing road conditions and uses and update maps every year on April 1. All off-roaders are encouraged to regularly check maps to make sure they are in compliance with rules for riding ORVs on state forest roads. It’s all part of a multiyear process tied to P.A. 288 of 2016, which directed the DNR to comprehensively map and inventory all state forest roads and make determinations on the open/closed status of each road. The DNR completed a similar evaluation and work for state forest roads in southern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula at the end of 2018. Overall, there currently are nearly 7,600 miles of state forest roads in the northern Lower Peninsula. The most recent mapping and inventory review process yielded a net increase of 31.5 miles of roads open to ORV users, compared to a year ago. A few miles were closed to ORV use due to damage and the need for natural resources protection. Public feedback was a critical part of the mapping and inventory process, and the DNR will continue to provide the opportunity for people to share their comments and ideas about proposed road changes for the next round of statewide map updates. People can view all maps at Michigan.gov/ForestRoads and submit feedback via the interactive maps. To have comments considered for potential changes to the 2020 maps, feedback must be submitted by Aug. 31, 2019. For more on off-road vehicle opportunities statewide and other need-to-know information, visit Michigan.gov/ORVTrails.