Elmwood backs ‘center’ plan
The Elmwood Township Board this week adopted a resolution of support for a brownfield redevelopment plan that Leelanau County hopes to implement on the former Norris Elementary School property on Cherry Bend Road.
A representative of the non-profit firm that plans to develop the site into a community center said a $15 million project is planned that will provide employment for up to 200 people.
The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners at its executive committee meeting Tuesday morning heard a similar briefing on the plan and agreed to hold a public hearing on the plan next Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the regular 7 p.m. county board meeting.
A Traverse City Area Public School property, the Norris building is located next to two county-owned properties — one an abandoned residence, the other an environmentally contaminated site formerly occupied by a dry cleaning business now being cleaned up with federal “Superfund” money.
The Leelanau County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority has developed a plan that would allow a nonprofi t group known as the Grand Traverse Recreation and Arts Center (GTRAC) to redevelop all three parcels using tax increment financing as well as a variety of state and federal grants and loans.
None of the property envisioned for redevelopment is currently on tax rolls. According to a contractor working for the county Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Eric Helzer of AKT Peerless, the property could bring in about $282,000 in new taxes per year once it is transferred to GTRAC and construction of a new building is completed.
Helzer presented a briefing to the Elmwood Township Board at its regular monthly meeting Monday evening. He said GTRAC plans to spend up to $15 million over the next several years to redevelop the site into a community center for the arts, recreation, childcare and senior citizen activities.
Graphics presented by Helzer showed various plumes of contaminants found in underground water at the site. The contamination has crossed M-22 and is slowly seeping into Grand Traverse Bay. Homes in the area are connected to municipal water or tapped into deeper water sources, he added.
The contamination was left behind by a commercial cleaning company that closed down in the 1970’s.
A vapor extraction system is in place to remove contaminants prior to their reaching the Norris building. A new extraction system will need to be built to serve the new building.
The Elmwood Township Board voted 7-0 on a motion by treasurer Debbie Street, supported by trustee Terry Lautner, to adopt a resolution “concurring with the provisions of a Brownfield Plan” adopted by the Leelanau County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for the GTRAC redevelopment project.
In other business at its regular monthly meeting this week, the Elmwood Township Board:
• Reviewed a series of agreements and plans under consideration by the Grand Traverse County Board of Public Works (BPW) related to a financially troubled septage treatment serving Elmwood and several townships in Grand Traverse County. The board will likely discuss the same issues next month, according to township supervisor Jack Kelly. The only action the township board took this week related to the BPW was a 7-0 decision to make a $10,000 budget amendment to help the BPW pay for a new water meter.
• Conducted a brief public hearing on a continuing effort to eradicate the invasive weed phragmites from the West Grand Traverse Bay shoreline in the township. The board subsequently voted 7-0 on a resolution to approve the same “eradication zone” as last year.
• Authorized Kelly to apply for a permit to groom the beach at the township’s Greilickville Harbor Park in keeping with new state beach grooming guidelines.
• Heard from a group of Shoreside Drive property owners who asked the township consider adopting a junk and nuisance ordinance so they can deal with neighbors who are leaving junk and disabled vehicles in plain sight on their property. The board agreed by consensus to refer the matter to the township zoning administrator.