Chelsea Council Works Through a Packed Agenda

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By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

An overview of Chelsea City Council’s June 7, 2021, meeting.

Public Comments

One resident described his experience protesting racial injustice on Sunday at the corner of Main and Middle. Most of the cars passing by do not interact with the protestors, but some do, and except for a few, they are very supportive and encouraging. He encourages this same support to spread into the City Council and the community at large.

Another resident asked for clarification on how Bobcat Consulting will contact community members regarding the police department audit. She also requested that the Council extend the timeline for the audit contract. The speaker also invited the Council and the listening public to join the One World One Family community dialogue on policing with details found on its Facebook page.

A resident criticized non-residents who speak against the Chelsea Police Department. She feels the city is reacting to the input of people who do not live in Chelsea or fund the police department through their taxes.

A resident told the Council that her dog from Chelsea has won awards in Kalamazoo and believes that it is some good news for Chelsea.

Community Center Task Force Appointment

The city had one open spot to fill for the Community Center Task Force. The principal role of the Community Center Task Force is to present research findings and make recommendations to the City Council for further study or action.

Of the two people who applied for the seat, Ginny Leikam was appointed by the Council. Ms. Leikam comes to the Task Force representing 5 Healthy Towns Foundation, of which she is a board member. Ms. Leikam brings five years of experience with Washtenaw Co Parks and Recreation and 11 years with The Conservation Fund.

Appointment to the Zoning Board of Appeals

Jamie Lane applied for the open position on the ZBA. Ms. Lane has prior ZBA experience and is a current planning commissioner for Chelsea. Ms. Lane was enthusiastically endorsed by Councilmembers Albertson and Wiseley and unanimously voted in by the Council.

Planning Commission Appointment

The city currently has two open seats on the Planning Commission. Mayor Johnson received one application from Julianne Chard. The Mayor noted Ms. Chard’s experience in architecture and zoning but particularly in environmental issues, which is a growing interest for Chelsea. Ms. Chard was voted onto the PC.

Power Purchase Agreement Authorizations

The Council approved authorization for the city’s representative to enter into two solar power purchase agreements. Both agreements are for 20 years. The first is with Calhoun Co Solar Project for 0.7 megawatts starting in 2022. The second agreement is with Hart Solar Partners for 1.5 megawatts beginning in 2023.

Social District Permits

The Council approved social district permits for Zou Zou’s, Grateful Crow, Jet’s Pizza, and Ugly Dog Distillery. The boundaries of the district will be designated with signs. Stickers will be used to designate cups containing alcohol.

“This is a pilot project,” said Mayor Johnson. “Just to address any concern, the city has the ability to revoke if there are any problems with the social district. The goal of this is to help out some of the businesses who have had hard time during the pandemic.”

Purchase of City Trash Bags

Per a request from the City’s Solid Waste Dept., the Council approved the purchase of 100,000 orange trash bags per year for three years from Petoskey Plastics. The total cost is $60,240.

Adoption of Utility Rates and Fees for FY 2021-22

The Council approved utility rates for 2021-22 with no changes to electric, water, or sewer rates.

Resolution to Set the 2021-22 City Millage Rate

The Council approved a resolution setting the city’s millage rate at 13.1555 for 2021-22. The millage is broken down as follows: General Fund 11.2, Streets 1.22, and Solid Waste 0.7355. Mayor Johnson noted that the millage rate has not increased in 14 years.

Resolution to Set the 2021-22 DDA Millage Rate

The Council approved a resolution setting the Chelsea Downtown Development Authority millage at 1.5884. The DDA is required to obtain a resolution from City Council each year to support the levy of this tax for the DDA’s ongoing operations. Per a question from Councilmember Albertson, City Manager Hanifan explained that the DDA Millage is collected only from property owners in Chelsea’s Downtown Development Authority District and is in addition to the city tax of 13.1555 mils they already pay.

Tax Resolution to Collect 1% Administrative Fee

The Council approved a tax resolution to collect a 1% administrative fee. Administrative Director, Amanda Garber, explained that this fee has been collected each year since Chelsea became a city and began collecting its own taxes. Ms. Garber also stated, per the State General Property Tax Act, this is “a fee to offset costs incurred by a collecting unit in assessing property values, in collecting the property tax levies, and in the review and appeal processes.”

Resolution to Approve the 2021-22 City of Chelsea Budget

The Council approved a resolution approving the city’s 2021-22 budget. The city has posted the budget at https://www.city-chelsea.org/Finance/Current-Budget

Set City Manager Evaluation

The Council set City Manager John Hanifan’s evaluation for June 21, 2021. Mr. Hanifan has been with the City of Chelsea for 14 years.

Staff Reports

Mr. Hanifan reported that the Parks and Recreation Committee would be setting a public input meeting for July. New signage for the Downtown Development District is being installed. The Sibley Rd. project is expected to begin after July 1. Chelsea POP program is in its planning stage and anticipates a public input meeting in early July. Palmer Commons will be seal coated. In response to a question from Councilmember Pacheco, Mr. Hanifan explained that the police department audit by Bobcat Consulting is expected to begin after July 4 and last three to four days.

Council Reports

Councilmember Albertson reported on recent Planning Commission activities. The Heritage Point development, renamed Heritage Farms, submitted an amendment request to reduce lot size. The PC received a presentation on preliminary plans to convert the former Big Boy into a Culvers.

Councilmember Wiseley reported on the ZBA’s approval of a variance requested by Jiffy Mix to move a warehouse further away from nearby residents. Mr. Wisely also reported on attending the Human Rights Commission and Planning Commission meetings.

Councilmember Iannelli reported that Human Rights Commission conducted MDCR (Michigan Dept of Civil Rights) training with city staff. The Commission is planning for MLK Day and reviewed anti-bullying training material. Mr. Iannelli also explained the Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority price increase and that the recent Styrofoam recycling event was a success.

Councilmember Kwas reported on attending the MDCR training and the CAPT/DART meeting.

Councilmember Pacheco reported attending CAPT/DART and that $2.9 million in federal money is coming to Washtenaw County to be used for roads.

Mayor Johnson reported attending the Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony. She also attended the MDCR training and met with the new Sylvan Twp Supervisor.

The Mayor also offered her congratulations to the Chelsea High School graduating class of 2021, saying, “I've watched many of these youngsters grow up and have had the opportunity to coach them, cheer for them, and talk with them at their schools. I'm very pleased and very proud of the adults that they have become. I wish them the very best in their next phase of life.”

In closing, Mayor Johnson also recognized the life of Trinh Pifer and her contribution to Chelsea. “And finally, I'm very sad to announce tonight the passing of Trinh Pifer, who's been a longtime community partner of the City of Chelsea. Most of us know her through her work at the Senior Center, where she did an exemplary job growing the program and supporting the community. She's also been a great contributor to the City of Chelsea in many different ways and has just been a really stellar human being that we will all miss greatly.”

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