Dexter Community Update 07-12-21

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By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

From the Dexter City Council meeting, July 12, 2021:

Swearing-In Ceremony: The meeting opened with the swearing-in of new Council Member Sanam Arab.

See article: Meet Dexter’s Newest Council Member, Sanam Arab

Pre-Arranged Participation: Jennifer Olmstead of Ann Arbor SPARK gave a brief presentation to the Council. Ann Arbor SPARK serves Washtenaw and Livingston counties by promoting and supporting the region’s innovative industries.

“We work with companies to help them utilize other programs through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation,” said Olmstead. “One of them is the Export Assistance Program. We have a new program that is a three-year program from the State of Michigan to help retain our college talent in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) specifically.”

Olmstead told the Council that SPARK has worked with only k-Space and MC3 Cardiopulmonary in Dexter’s Bishop Circle Industrial Park. But if any company is looking to hire STEM employees, SPARK has matching grants that could help support that decision.

Communications: Dexter District Library Director Paul McCann submitted a letter requesting the Council appoint a person to the Library’s Board of Trustees to fill an open seat effective September 30th. Mr. McCann reminded council members that it is the Council’s responsibility to make such an appointment. The representative must live within the Dexter City limits. The position is on a volunteer basis, and the term lasts four years.

Dexter Public Works: Public Works Director Dan Schlaff submitted his written report and told the Council of resident concerns regarding the alley behind The Filmore that exits onto Fifth St. Vehicles are being parked too close to the alley creating poor visibility for those motorists pulling out onto the road. His department is looking at different options to create safer conditions.

DPW is working on getting bids to repair the partially collapsed water main on Hudson St. Mr. Schlaff is having difficulty finding interested contractors because they are busy right now.

Mayor Keough brought up the tall wildflowers along the new section of the Mill Creek Park Trail. His concern is that visibility is hindered around the bends and could be a safety concern. Schlaff replied DPW would look at how best to remedy the situation.

Community Development: Community Development Manager Michelle Aniol submitted her written report to the Council, which included the following:

The Planning Commission postponed action on the combined preliminary and final site plan for 7390 Dexter-Ann Arbor Road, a/k/a Care2Cure medical office building. The Planning Commission determined that although the applicant had addressed the stormwater management, landscaping, and topographic issues cited during the preliminary site plan review, the proposed building design still did not meet the requirements of the Dexter-Ann Arbor Road Corridor Overlay District.

The new Eve and Annie Boutique opened July 1st, at 8118 Main St. Eve, and Annie Boutique sells woman’s apparel.

Scio Master Plan: A meeting with Scio Township officials is tentatively scheduled for July 20 to review and discuss concerns and ways to work together on the Baker Road Corridor.

Barrier-Free Parking Request: A resident at 150 Jeffords has requested the placement of at least one barrier-free parking space in line with the entrance to the 150 Jeffords building. Staff has asked for the assistance of the city engineer in determining the logistics and costs for providing such public improvements.

The Fillmore received zoning compliance approval for an expanded outdoor service area (see attached plan). The expanded space will offer additional outdoor dining.

Beer Grotto Barricades: Ms. Aniol verbally reported that the DDA examined whether the blue pallets used for barricades in front of the Beer Grotto met the safety standards for parklettes. After looking into the requirements, the DDA determined the barriers met the safety standards.

DAFD Report: The Dexter Area Fire Department Board submitted the City with amendments to the DAFD bylaws. The copy can be found in the meeting packet. No action was needed for the revisions.

Police Report: The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office submitted its monthly report.

See article: Dexter Police Report, May 2021

City Manager: Interim City Manager Justin Breyer submitted his written report to the Council, which included the following:

MERS (Municipal Employees’ Retirement System) Actuarial Valuation: The annual valuation of the City’s closed defined benefit pension system as of December 31, 2020, is provided in the meeting packet. The City’s funded percentage went from 85% to 86%. December 31, 2019, plan year saw funding percentage decrease from 87% to 85%, which was a result of changes in MERS assumptions, including a reduction in rate of returns. Over the last several years, the City has budgeted to contribute more than the required MERS minimum.

OHM Assistance: Following City Council’s approval at the June 28, 2021 meeting, staff worked with OHM advisors to coordinate fulfilling the office assistance proposal. Engineer Stacie Serdar began assisting the City beginning July 6.

TMDL Settlement Agreement: Staff was notified by the City’s attorney that EGLE has agreed to the Settlement Agreement regarding the contested NPDES/TMDL permit, which was approved by City Council and the other municipal co-litigants.

Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee Projects: During its July 7, 2021 meeting, the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee discussed several potential projects that the group desires to undertake. These projects include a collaboration with Apple Daze to do a “Slams & S’mores” outdoor storytelling event, “We Love Dexter” art display, and a Katherine Dexter McCormick-centered theatre project.

3515 Broad Street: Following City Council’s approval, staff secured an extension of the Purchase Agreement for the 3515 Broad St. property slated for new city offices. The extension was to get a Phase 2 environmental assessment performed. Mr. Breyer verbally reported to the Council that the evaluation did not find the contaminant shown to be there from old records.

American Rescue Plan: Mr. Breyer also reported that the City had filed paperwork for approximately $490,000 from the American Rescue Plan.

Consent Agenda: The Council approved 1) Bills and payroll for $361,315.84, 2) Purchase of a utility line locator for $8,915.00, and 3) The 2021-22 WAVE contract providing transportation services for the City for $68,900.00.

Old Business:

A public hearing regarding a Conflict of Interest Ordinance was postponed in favor of further discussion by the Council.

The Council had a general discussion on fire fighting facilities focusing on orienting new council members on the accumulated studies and information and calibrating the council so that its members are unified in their priorities on facility upgrades.

The Council postponed action to its second meeting in August regarding placing a request to MIOSHA for consultation on the current fire station's state, noting the station's uncertain status to code.

Also, the Council passed a motion directing Fire Chief Smith to prepare a preemptory report entailing probable concerns that an external consultation would highlight regarding fire facilities.

The Council discussed the need to employ an external facilitator to help it move forward on the fire station. The sentiment of council members was that they would like to move forward on their own. Councilmember Griffin, who introduced the idea at the last council meeting, expressed her encouragement over the evening’s discussion and didn’t see a need for a facilitator at this time.

New Business:

A contract with Justin Breyer for the City Manager
was presented to the Council by Mayor Keough. The Council discussed the agreement and made amendments. The amended contract will return on the Council’s next agenda for approval.

See article: Dexter Has Found Its Next City Manager

A bid was awarded to T&M Asphalt Paving for Dexter Crossing roadwork for $454,100.

A contract with MDOT for Third and Broad streets reconstruction was approved.

The Council approved a motion directing local government groups to return to in-person meetings beginning in September at St. Andrew’s Church.

The Council passed a motion creating a 3515 Broad Street User Group consisting of the City Manager, Finance Director, Community Development Director, Public Services Superintendent, and Mayor.

Non-Arranged Participation: During the meeting’s second chance for public comment, one community member urged caution in the development of the City’s Conflict of Interest Ordinance, saying in part,

“My personal desire is that for any kind of discussions around conflict of interest for those things not become a chilling effect preventing people from wanting to actually participate in, not just elected official business but also in a lot of community work and government. Our system really only works if people actually get out and do things for our community. And the last thing I want is for people with good intentions to second guess themselves on helping out nonprofits or helping our church organizations or helping our neighbors for fear that it may impugn the credibility in some project that they care about.”

Further information on the Council’s meeting can be found in the meeting packet posted on the City’s website and a link to the video.

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