Hancock tables business park document | News, Sports, Work

Hancock City Manager Mary Babcock discusses wording in the city’s business and technology park’s declaration of restrictions and covenants. The Board tabled approval to address questions regarding the wording of certain clauses. (Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — The Hancock City Council tabled the governing document for its new business and technology park Wednesday because of concerns about the wording.

The 40-acre park will be located behind Hancock Central High School near Tomasi Road, on land purchased by the city more than 30 years ago with the intention of one day building such a park.

Councilman John Heusler questioned the references to the current zoning ordinance, which the city is in the process of revising.

City Manager Mary Babcock said the city needs a covenant before it can sell lots to potential buyers.

“That’s one of the hurdles to really push for sale or to market, but it hasn’t been put out to bid yet, so we can hold out,” she said.

Haeussler also questioned a provision that each party would pay its own attorneys’ fees in the event of a breach-of-covenant lawsuit. Mayor Paul Labine asked city attorneys to explain the ordinance. While both parties are usually responsible for paying their own attorneys’ fees, he was surprised to see a clause specifying that in this setting.

“That’s usually something I would see in an arbitration agreement, like a union contract,” he said.

The revised language is expected to be ready for the next council meeting on June 20.

The council did approve the engagement of Realtor Kristine Weidner for the sale of lots in the park. Before the lots are listed, the council must approve the sale price.

The city is still awaiting approval from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to bid on the park, Babcock said. Completion of the park is scheduled for late summer 2023.

In other matters, the council:

• Approved authorizing Babcock to purchase 1034 2nd St. at a cost not to exceed $15,000. The foreclosed property shall be the property of the county treasurer; taxes due are $12,401.31. Despite reservations about getting involved in the practice, Heusler said the city could benefit financially. He said changes to the state’s General Property Tax Act in recent years allow the city to keep the profit from the resale of the property instead of returning the revenue to the county treasurer. Fair market value would be about $93,000, Heusler said.

Councilor Lisa McKenzie suggested putting the proceeds into a fund to improve other distressed properties to house families in the city.

The council voted in favor, 6-1; Councilman Ron Blau, the lone dissenting vote, had concerns about buying the property before knowing whether the city would have to put money into improvements such as asbestos removal.

• Approved a letter of support for Michigan Technological University’s Refined Battery Materials Supply Chain U.S. Electric Vehicle Battery Application. The council approved the letter unanimously, though with some trepidation about accepting it without information about the project.

“I see a subject matter expert come up to me down the road and say, ‘You ignorant fool! What were you thinking supporting this? … On the surface it seems like something we want to support, but I don’t know anything about it,” Hausler said.

• I heard from Babcock that the city is asking for bids to restore the Maasto Hiihto trails, with bids due by July 27th. The project is the latest Federal Emergency Management Agency project since the Father’s Day flooding in 2018. Bids for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trail at Navy and Tezcuco streets are due July 18.

• The city also created a new loading and unloading area on the boardwalk at Porvoo Park that allows boaters to load or disembark their vessels before parking their boat further down the dock.

• Users of the Laurn Grove Pickleball Court have set up a GoFundMe to pay for converting the site’s former tennis courts into four pickleball courts. The nets will be up by Monday, Babcock said. The GoFundMe campaign can be found at gofundme.com/f/759wze.

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