Gravel Mine, Follow-up Session Scheduled, & More | Chelsea City Council 11-16-20

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| 5 min | by Doug Marrin |

A synopsis from Chelsea City Council's November 16, 2020 meeting.

Public Comments

A Chelsea resident commented on the planned follow-up session to the community listening sessions, an agenda item for the Council meeting. "I would encourage you to please don't delay this forever. We really need to at least have Council talking about it so that any action that comes from it, and certainly the community townhall from it, can be scheduled in a reasonable time." She also stated an outside facilitator would be preferable over a city-led meeting.

A Lyndon Township resident echoed the follow-up session's thoughts and encouraged the Council at its zoning revision work session to strive for increased diversity in the City.

A Chelsea resident who had applied for the vacant Planning Commission seat introduced himself to the Council and gave a brief background of his qualifications.

Police Department Work Session

Councilmember Peter Feeney introduced a motion to schedule a police department work session to review Chelsea police policies and procedures for January 11, 2021, at 6:00 pm. This meeting would be a follow-up to the community listening sessions held on July 15 and September 3.

Feeney gave an impassioned preamble reminding the Council of the community's ability to rise to change when called on to do so. He sees this as one of those times.

Councilmember Jane Pacheco added, "My hope is that as we move forward, to make this community and our world a better place for all of us, we truly take a look at those policies and practices and systems and institutions, and the ways that we can make lasting and sustainable change in those in those things."

Mayor Johnson also noted the Council's ongoing listening, research, and public interaction throughout the process. She also announced the County Attorney's office had contacted the City with charging decisions regarding the Pierce Park incident.

The Council unanimously passed the motion.

Hiring an Outside Facilitator: The Council discussed hiring an outside facilitator to assist with the police department work session. Mayor Johnson encouraged the Council to make a motion and resolve the issue since it has been on several agendas thus far. During the discussion, there was support for the idea as well as against it. In the end, no motion was made, and the Council made no decision.

Chelsea Area Fire Authority Articles of Incorporation: The CAFA updated its articles of incorporation, which were last updated in 1999. The Council approved the revisions.

Electric Power Purchase Agreement: The City Council approved the purchase agreement with the Michigan Public Power Agency through 2025.

City Council Meeting Dates: The 2021 dates were approved. The Council will meet on the first and third Mondays of each month except in December, which only has one meeting. For the four City holidays that fall on a Monday, the sessions will take place the next day on Tuesday.

Extension of Outdoor Seating: A motion to extend temporary outdoor seating for local restaurants to March 31, 2021, was approved.

"I appreciate the additional opportunities that have been given to the restaurants and our citizenry, and visitors, and the flexibility that the City has had during this pandemic to address some of the outstanding concerns of our local businesses and to provide some additional opportunities in this time," stated Mayor Johnson during the discussion. "I know that these additional outdoor seatings have been really well received by our restaurant owners."

A Joint Work Session for the Planning Commission and City Council for a review of the first draft of the new zoning ordinance was set for Thursday, December 17, 2020, at 7:00 pm.

Assignment of Delinquent Utilities to Taxes: The Council approved to move $2,958.89 of past due utility invoices to the Winter 2020 tax roll. The City's Code of Ordinances allows for utility accounts for more than six months delinquent to be placed as a lien against the property to which it relates.

Board of Review for Letters of Protest: The City of Chelsea has historically allowed taxpayers the option of submitting letters of protest regarding their assessed property values. This move alleviates taxpayers' requirement to appear in person at the December or March Board of Review meetings, although they are welcome to do so still if they wish. State law requires the City Council to annually pass/refuse a resolution to allow letters of protest. The Council passed the resolution.

2021 Poverty/Hardship Guidelines: The Council approved the 2021 Poverty/Hardship Guidelines, which allows a property tax exemption for the principal residence of a person who, in the judgment of the supervisor and board of review, because of poverty, are unable to contribute to the public charges. The application rates are the same as those used by the Chelsea School District to determine the need for free and reduced school lunches. The forms are available online at the City's website and the City Office front desk.

City Manager's Report

City Manager John Hanifan reported that after the first of the year, when the Council is required to meet in person, the City would offer the chance for citizens to attend and interact virtually. Mr. Hanifan expressed his gratitude to the Chelsea Public Works crew, who worked Sunday to repair a water break. He also noted the City's preemptive measures in preventing power outages, most notably trimming the trees, contributed to avoiding any downed lines during Sunday's high winds.

Mayor's Report

Chelsea Mayor Melissa Johnson's report included:

  • The Parks and Recreation Master Plan survey is live on the City's website, and anyone who has not already filled it out is encouraged to do so.
  • The Pierce Park Improvement Plan is underway. The landscaping has been completed, and construction of the second gazebo will begin, weather permitting. A new sign has also been ordered.
  • Mayor Johnson also pointed out pending gravel mine legislation in Senate Bill 431 in the Michigan Legislature. The Mayor stated,

"For many of you, I believe it was 2014, the City of Chelsea was actively involved, as were many, many, many residents concerning the mine that was being proposed north of town in Lyndon Township. There are proposed changes to that legislation that would remove much local control and change the process for permit approvals."

"If you haven't already, I would encourage you to review the legislation and provide your feedback to both your local senator as well as your local representative. It is my understanding that this will also be a topic at the next community forum."

  • The Mayor encouraged folks to shop local as much as possible. If in-person shopping is not an option, she noted the Chelsea Chamber has information about local online shopping.
  • With the increase in COID cases, locally and nationally, the Mayor encouraged everyone to wear a mask and follow safety protocols.

The complete audio for November 16, 2020, Chelsea City Council meeting can be found on the City's website.

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