NEW BUFFALO — A summary of the feasibility study of the 1770 Behner Road Site showing the good, the bad and the ugly opened the New Buffalo Township Board meeting on Monday, Sept. 17.
The study, conducted by Wightman Associates, was conducted following the township’s $5,000 investment with Cornerstone Alliance last November to support its marketing of the 69-acre potential industrial development site at the intersection of I-94 Exit 4 and U.S. 12.
Cornerstone Alliance President Ron Cleveland told the board that the site’s location and dual rail access came under the “good” category while the restricted access due to the highway and rail lines came under the “bad” rating. He said the “ugly” was due to the cost of needed bridges over the highway and rail lines, estimated at $650,000, additional water and sewer investments for more than $700,000, and wetland mitigation at $1,000 per acre.
Cleveland remains hopeful for the site’s potential development, describing it as “incredibly interesting,” but said the site would only be suitable for a major project costing $60 to $100 million. He said he plans to now contact CSX and Norfolk & Southern (Amtrak) and some adjacent property owners to explore further interest and options at the site.
Getting on with business, the board approved a new ordinance requiring businesses located in the township to obtain a license and a separate ordinance setting license and inspection fees. Supervisor Michelle Heit said the ordinances will ensure businesses are routinely inspected for compliance with health and fire safety regulations.
The Business Licensing Ordinance stipulates a fire code inspection by the Fire Code Inspector Dan Mandalis to cover fire detection and alarm systems, fire extinguishers, hydrants and pumps and emergency exits and signage. The ordinance also is intended to help with equitable property taxation, public utility and land use planning and general promotion of the township. Businesses with questions should contact Mandalis at (269) 469-1011, ext. 121.
Licenses will be issued for a period of one to three years depending on the type of business as described in the ordinance. Fines for non-compliance range from $100 to $500 daily, plus costs. The Inspection and Fee Schedule Ordinance gives the schedule of fees based on size and type of business being inspected.
The board approved payment to Burkholder Construction for $80,200 to complete the Roma Sanitary Sewer project and approved a change order to cover the relocation of a waterline serving the adjoining Balzekas property.
Fire Chief Jamie Flick said the department received 23 calls during August and remained above the year-ago call levels with 162 calls year-to-date. Both he and Mandalis will attend the emergency service training at a cost of $166 plus expenses and Austin Smyers will attend Firefighter I and II classes.
The board approved the $6,000 purchase of a 2014 squad car from the Village of Michiana which Chief Flick said had “very low mileage for a squad car.” The car will be used by the Fire Department as a command vehicle, for the transport of men and equipment for very large fires and also for use by firefighters to attend remote training classes. Also approved was $1,300 for the car’s township signage.
Sheriff’s Lieutenant Julie Flick said the New Buffalo department had remained busy during the summer, particularly with water emergency calls although no drownings had occurred in the township this past summer. She said the department had recently undergone refresher training in active shooter situations and was cooperating with other agencies in the county to investigate a rash of recent armed robberies, although none have occurred in New Buffalo Township.
From the audience, John Krsul, interim executive director of The Pokagon Fund, said the Fund had hired a search firm to locate a new executive director. He said a complete job description can be accessed from a link on TPF’s web site and will also be posted with the Council of Michigan Foundations.