THREE OAKS — The Village of Three Oaks is looking for “a community minded, out-of-the box thinker” to become its next Village Manager following the resignation of Mike Greene, who has held the post since August 2017.
During its Nov. 13 meeting, the council decided to advertise locally and post the job description on its website until its December meeting. If no candidates are found, the council will discuss using the search services of the Michigan Municipal League.
Greene, who expects to leave by mid-December, has accepted a job with Saline, Mich., a city of about 8,800 residents south of Ann Arbor and closer to his family and friends in his hometown of Caro, Mich. While saying he had no major completed projects to point to, Greene said he felt good about updating and establishing many needed policies and procedures which he believes will serve Three Oaks well in the future.
Upgrades to the village’s sanitary lagoons and sewer system is one project that has occupied a lot of Greene’s time and was again the subject of his manager’s report.
With the village’s new Water and Sewer Superintendent Quentin Clark providing direction on the next steps, representatives Brian Hannon and Jacob Bruggink from Moore & Bruggink Consulting Engineers were asked to return with bids for the removal of some or part of the remaining sludge and recommendations on the next steps before new aerators are installed.
The village passed its recent discharge test with flying colors from Michigan’s Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Department. However, the engineers said the system is still receiving waste that is above normal residential usage and way beyond what the lagoon system was designed to handle. This excessive waste continues despite the absence of Journeyman Distillery’s waste which continues to be hauled to a remote facility.
Also, the consultants estimate that in addition to the 3 million gallons of sludge already removed from the lagoons more than 5 million gallons remain to be dredged. Problems with erosion of the lagoon walls and excess vegetation on the banks were also identified.
“We want to start off fresh with the new aerator equipment. It’s not going to be cheap, unfortunately, but the right way is the best case. We have to take care of it,” Clark said.
Earlier in the meeting, there was a public hearing on the new Master and Downtown Development Plans recently submitted by the Planning Commission. Chairman Gene Svebakken said being able to combine work on both plans was a good process. Resident Tom Flint asked that any rezoning approved for proposed projects in the Enterprise Park be given on a conditional basis in order to maintain control over how the village grows (The Enterprise Park at U.S. 12 and Schwark Road is owned by the township but is incorporated into the village.)
After the meeting resumed, Village President Dave Grosse asked that the council return the plans to the Planning Commission to “work some kinks out to make it less confusing for ourselves and developers.” Areas he wants to readdress include the need for affordable housing, different types of senior living facilities, three-story apartment buildings and more flexibility for rezoning large open spaces.
In other business, the council approved a policy for the use of the village council chambers by outside groups. When the Village Hall is open and staff is present, there will be no fee. At other times, depending on staff availability, there will be a $50 fee for a two-hour use Mondays through Thursdays and $100 fee for two hours on Fridays through Sundays.
The council approved the purchase of a back-up generator for one of the village’s wells from Reliable Generator for $23,900. During the recent 25-hour power outage, Clark said he discovered the existing generators at the wells are not large enough to meet the state requirement that there be two wells capable of functioning at all times. The existing generator will be kept as a back-up.
A contract to televise the insides of the sewer ductwork to identify needed maintenance and repairs was approved Corby Engineering for $6,000.
The council voted to extend the village’s moratorium on food trucks for another year. It also further demonstrated its support of the local brick-and-mortar businesses by upholding Staymaker Restaurant’s decision not allow a customer’s request for a food truck to serve at an upcoming wedding reception.
The following committee assignments were approved: Planning Commission, appointment of Richard Smith and reappointment of Darlene Heemstra; Parks and Recreation, appointment of Debbie Schutt, GiGi Carroll and Tyler Ream; and Zoning Board of Appeals, appointment of Tom Flint.
Under Committee Updates, Trustee Colleen Newquist reported the Marijuana Committee of the Planning Commission hopes to have its initial report to the council in December.
Grosse announced that the Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held downtown and at Carver Park on Saturday, Dec. 7, beginning at 6 p.m. Other holiday events include a Snowflake Stroll in the business district on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 30) and a Radio Harbor Country party at the Acorn Theater on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.