GOLDEN SHOVELS… Hartford Library Board of Directors (from the left) Vice-President Faith Dowd, President James Jonatzke, Trustees Anne Burch and Susan Hall along with President of the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society Joyce Beedie and Board Secretary Linda Hadley turn soil to mark the official start of the new library and community center project.
Watervliet Twp. OKs special use permit for first medical marijuana related business; a second application for a provisioning center rejected
By Annette Christie The Watervliet Township Board approved the special land use permit for their first medical marijuana related business at their October 21, 2019 meeting. This follows a recommendation from the Planning Commission which stated, “the application was complete, accurate and met all the requirements for zoning and those of the Township’s Medical Marihuana Facilities Ordinance.” The Planning Commission held their October 1 meeting and conducted two public hearings to discuss applications. One of the special land use permits was for a medical marijuana provisioning center at 3801 M-140. This is currently Mill Creek Charlie’s, formerly the Waffle House. The company interested in the property and the future provisioning center is BRT Capital. The other application for a provisioning center at 8277 Arnt Blvd did not meet criteria. The site plan for the center showed that the ordinance mandated distance from the closest side of the structure to the nearest property line with a residential structure was 93’ 3”, under the requirement of at least 100 feet. The township is seeking additional counsel on this matter and it is expected to be re-visited at the next Planning Commission meeting. Following the vote, Trustee Bob Wallace commented, “I would rather see a restaurant go in there, but what are you gonna do.” The vote was unanimous with Matt Clay and Joe Matthews absent. Another application is facing township officials and will be heard on November 5 at a Planning Commission meeting and public hearing. MJA Enterprises has applied for a special land use permit for property at 3626 M-140 for a provisioning center. Articles of Incorporation approved for wastewater treatment plant The board also approved the new Articles of Incorporation for the Paw Paw Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant. Joe Stepich explained that the current contract with the four municipalities is 50 years old and expires in 2020. “It needs to renewed, amended, or replaced,” Stepich said. The Plant Board is recommending that the Board become an Authority. Stepich explained that 50 years ago when the plant originally started up, the option of being an authority didn’t exist because there was no revenue stream. The Articles of Incorporation make that change into an authority; then they are able to borrow money on their own. It still does not give the authority the power to tax, however, they will still continue to have rate setting power. With Watervliet Township officials approving the Articles of Incorporation they join officials at the City of Coloma and Coloma Township who have already approved it. The City of Watervliet is expected to approve it at their next meeting.
School safety lights In a group project to improve safety around Watervliet High School, the City, the schools, and the township had to consider two solar powered rectangular rapid flashing beacons near the high school street crossing on Red Arrow Highway. The lights are stand-alone units and will include flashing lights, wireless radios, LED pedestrian push buttons as well as additional signage at the current cross walk areas. The request was made with the support of the schools, Watervliet Police Chief Tim Sutherland, Transportation/ Maintenance Director Mark Isbrecht, and School Resource Officer Toby Thornsbury. A financial partnership was presented to the township. Clerk Patt Bambrick said the schools have pledged $4,786.15, $2,786.16 was requested of the township, and the city pledged $2,000 plus the labor to install, equipment monitoring, and ongoing maintenance. The board approved the motion with the exception of Wallace, who felt there was already enough signage and caution provided at the turn. County report Berrien County Commissioner Dave Vollrath said that the 2020 Berrien County budget is nearing completion, targeted for the beginning of next month. Vollrath said that with the Governor slashing funding, it could cost the county money in several departments including the Sheriff’s Office and Health Department. Vollrath said that though there have been some discussions about some additional parks millage money at the county level, it will probably not happen this year. If the county were to raise the mill one more mill, $400,000 is the estimated additional revenue at a cost of just about $9 annually per resident.
Other business The board approved bills in the amount of $177,949.50 which included $22,958.81 in payroll. Chief Dan Jones talked about the recent ISO score the Watervliet Fire Department received. With a little history, Jones said about ten years ago, homes covered by the Watervliet Fire Department had a score of 7 and the department was able to get it dropped to about a 5. Last summer, the department was able to get it reduced to a 3. Jones said that this score is significant in that the department is one of the top 75 fire departments in the State of Michigan, and in the top 3,500 in the country. Jones said there is no other department in the County that has a 3 or better. He thanked the Watervliet Township Board and said without their and the City’s support, this couldn’t have happened. Chana Kniebes with the North Berrien Community Development reminded the township board about the upcoming business recognition event on December 12. She hopes to tell them at their November meeting, which business will be honored. She informed the board that there will be a big promotion regarding National Small Business Saturday, which is the Saturday following Thanksgiving. It is an American shopping holiday and it was held first in November 2010, counterpart to Black Friday and